Little Bits of History

Bonanza

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 12, 2011

The Cartwright family: Adam, Little Joe, Ben, Hoss

September 12, 1959: The first western series to be filmed in color, Bonanza, premiers. The series was based on thrice widowed Ben Cartwright and his three sons (each from a different wife) who ran a 1000 square miles ranch, The Ponderosa. Lorne Greene portrayed the wise father to Adam (Pernell Roberts), Hoss (Dan Blocker), and Little Joe (Michael Landon). Bonanza was cancelled midway through the 14th season after filming 440 episodes.

This was not the first color program offered, but it is the first series offered in “living color.” Color televisions with a 600-line resolution system had been available since the 1940s, although early color TV was not always the color one would expect. The first standards in the US were formalized in 1950. The first broadcast was delayed by lawsuits for proprietary technology and was not aired until 1951. The program could not be seen on black and white sets and had a very limited viewing audience – only 30 sets were available in the New York area.

Later that year, there were some daytime shows broadcast in color but with only 100 of the 200 color sets actually sold, there was a highly limited viewership and color television production ceased for a time. In 1954, the first coast-to-coast broadcast in color was the Tournament of Roses Parade on New Years Day. NBC was affiliated with RCA – the maker of the color sets. CBS and ABC naturally shunned the technology that would help their competitor. ABC finally began prime time color broadcasting in 1962 with two color cartoons – The Flintstones and The Jetsons. In 1964 only 3.1% of sets sold were color. It was not until 1972 that more than half of the nation’s households owned color TVs.

Cuba was the second country in the world to offer color broadcasting. Europe joined in with a different standard and began regular color broadcasting on July 1, 1967 in West Germany. Other European countries soon followed.Japanwas the first Asian nation offering color fare beginning in 1960 with other Asian countries not joining in until the 1970s and finally with India offering color shows in 1982. Africa and South America also began broadcasts in color in the 1970s.

“I wish there were a knob on the TV to turn up the intelligence. There’s a knob called ‘brightness,’ but that doesn’t work.” – Unknown

“Every time you think television has hit its lowest ebb, a new type program comes along to make you wonder where you thought the ebb was.” – Art Buchwald

“The television, that insidious beast, that Medusa which freezes a billion people to stone every night, staring fixedly, that Siren which called and sang and promised so much and gave, after all, so little.” – Ray Bradbury

“If it weren’t for the fact that the TV set and the refrigerator are so far apart, some of us wouldn’t get any exercise at all. ” – Joey Adams

Also on this day:
Lascaux – In 1940, the caves filled with prehistoric art are discovered at Lascaux.
How Do I Love Thee – In 1846, Elizabeth Barrett eloped with Robert Browning.

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