On March 25, 1954, Radio Corporation of America began making color televisions at its Bloomington, Ind., plant. It built 5,000 sets with 12-inch screens, known as the model CT-100 color receiver. They sold for $1,000 each, astronomical in those days.

They didn’t get much use that year, because color telecasts were so rare. But the American love affair with the tube had taken a leap forward into the hues of real life.

The effort to bring color to the home screen was no easy feat. It occupied scientists throughout the late 1940s and early 1950s at RCA laboratories in Princeton, N.J. Their eventual concoction sounded like something out of a science fiction novel — the three-beam shadow mask tube.

The struggle for a clear and true color picture was hardly over…
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