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In Living Color

In Living Color

The Sarnoff Collection’s 2020 temporary exhibit traces the history of color television.

When American audiences tuned into NBC in 1957, they might have heard the announcer proclaim that “the following program is brought to you in living color!,” and they would have seen an animation of a peacock unfurl its six-colored tail feathers… in black and white. Although the first patent for a color television system was issued in 1902, and John Logie Baird successfully demonstrated a working color television system in his London laboratory in 1928, most American homes only had black and white televisions until the late 1960s. Why did it take so long for people to turn to color?

From this side of history, where we carry screens capable of displaying brilliant color in our pockets, it seems like color television was an inevitable and natural outcome of a decades-long quest to add sight to radio sound. However, the history of color television encompassed much more than the logical progression of technological advancement. Seeing “in living color” had as much to do with politics and consumer uncertainty as it did with changes in technology.

Experience In Living Color Online!

The Sarnoff Museum has temporarily closed as part of TCNJ’s COVID-19 response.
Until we reopen, visit our new online exhibition.

Related Events & Activities

We can’t host you here at the Sarnoff, so we’ve moved our events and activities online! Join us for #MuseumAtHome through these online talks and at-home DIY activities:

In Living Color: The Road to Color Television
Tune in via Zoom for an Opening Day Curator’s Talk
May 15, 1:30-2:30 pm

Join us for an online presentation by exhibition curator Florencia Pierri. Check back for registration information for this free event!


RCA, Television, and the Moon: Talk by Sam Russell
May 31 1:30-3:00pm
Tune in via Zoom for a presentation by Sam Russell

Sam Russell will speak about his experiences working on the Apollo missions and the history of the development of the camera and communication systems he helped build. Check back for registration information for this free event!

At home activities:

Why do television screens have red, green, and blue pixels? Learn more from this video and worksheet.