Resurfaced footage has emerged of the historical moment a television channel in the U.S. switched from its black-and-white programming to color for the very first time.
On April 14, 1967, WMT-TV Channel 2 in Iowa aired its first-ever color TV broadcast — transitioning from black-and-white to color as the anchor read the evening news.
The show starts with news anchor Robert “Bob” Bruner asking station manager Doug Grant what viewers watching at home can expect from the shift to color.
Although color televisions became available to American shoppers in 1954, they were expensive and few viewers would have owned one at the time of the broadcast.
However, station manager Grant says that the change will still affect households watching on black-and-white television sets.
“Well, we think you’ll see a big difference on black-and-white receivers,” Grant tells the viewers.
“The new color cameras will give an improved monochrome picture, and all our new color sets here in the studio were designed with that in mind.”
It is at this point that Bruner leaves Grant and makes his way to the separate news desk across the stage.
As Bruner takes a seat at the desk and begins announcing the news, the black-and-white picture on the television bursts into color.
“Well, up first I’d like to say this: that I feel doubly honored to have been chosen to be the first one involved in our big change,” Bruner, who is no longer in monochrome, tells viewers.
“Because there are so many, much more colorful characters around here than this reporter.”
A Transformative Technological Innovation
The 58-second clip of WMT-TV Channel 2’s first color broadcast has resurfaced on social media again with viewers describing the transition as an exciting moment in television history.
Social media users have also shared other moment television channels across the world switched from its black-and-white programming to color.
According to Smithsonian magazine, color television was one of the most complex and transformative technological innovations of its time.
Developing the technology to capture, transmit, and display color images was a challenging task that required significant advancements in electronics and broadcasting techniques. Establishing standardization and regulations for color television also posed challenges.
But the technology changed the way Americans “saw” the world and hailed a new vivid and modern era of imagery.
However, despite color televisions becoming available to consumers in 1954, it took a while for them to catch on. It was not until the early 1970s that color television in North America outsold black-and-white units.