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The Set: Pete Deksnis's Site about the CT-100

Restoring a Vintage Color Television Set

WHO WAS FIRST?

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Was RCA the only manufacturer to have a true production run of 15-inch color television sets?

 

Were Westinghouse, Admiral, Silvertone, Arvin, and other production lines just pilot runs at best? Were they in some cases simply engineering models?

 

(1) Then A Documented Production Line.

 

Sometime after 15-inch color television sets began to churn off the assembly line in Bloomington, Indiana, on March 15, 1954, RCA held a demonstration at its facilities for interested television manufacturers. Attending executives and engineers were shown the CT-100 production line and given a document that highlighted the tour and provided pertinent production facts.

 

Included in that document are (a.) a drawing of the CT-100 manufacturing area, (b.) production flow information, and (c.) an interesting statement indicating a significant, but not drastic, reduction in the number of sets produced on a color production line compared to a black and white line. At least two, and no doubt more, of these handouts have survived.

 

(2) Today – Some TV Set Survivors: an Overview.

 

There are over 125 surviving Merrills. That’s under five percent of the reported production run of about 4100.

 

There are six known and two chassis of the 1956 Philco 22D5102 21AXP22-based color set. That’s under five percent of the reported number of 500 sets made.

 

There are six known surviving RCA Model 5 color sets. That’s under five percent of the reported number of 200 sets made.

 

There are 15 known surviving Westinghouse H840CK15 color sets. That‘s under five percent of the reported number of sets made. [In early April 1954, Westinghouse claimed they were producing “several dozen” a day. They also claimed to be the “only company with a color set actually on the market” and that they had sold 30.]

 

(3) Inference – Pete’s Musings

 

In an industry where 25 million b&w sets had already been manufactured, a production run of about 4100 seems puny. But it was a documented true production line, and the circumstantial ‘<5-percent’ numerical evidence seems to point to just peewee pilot runs from RCA competitors.

 

Is it not the CT-100 that deserves the honor of being remembered as the first consumer color television set ever produced?

 

—Pete

Updated July 1, 2007; January 31, 2008