Early Color Television
(click on picture for high resolution image)
The RCA CT-100 was rushed to market in April of 1954, a few weeks after Westinghouse introduced its set. The original price was $1,000. More information about the CT-100 is on Ed Reitan's site. Here is a RCA Press Release, CT-100 specification sheet, service manual, and Owners Manual (courtesy of Dan Yahro). The CT-100 used the 15GP22 picture tube. Pete Deksnis's CT-100 site is now hosted on the ETF site. Here is a list of serial numbers of surviving CT-100s from Pete Deksnis and the RCA Service Clinic, courtesy of Ingo Kubbe.
Consumer Reports reviewed the CT-100 in their June, 1954 issue. They found it better in some ways than the Westinghouse, but said:
"Both sets were troubled with "color fringes" around objects on the screen. Neither set offered even the mediocre degree of sharpness which is found in most modern television sets".
After heavy advertising failed to sell many sets, the price was dropped to $495 by August. Shortly after that, RCA perfected its 21 inch tube, and recalled most of the CT-100s, swapping them for the new 21 inch sets at no cost.
The picture tube in this set was expensive to make, and RCA lost a considerable amount of money on each set sold.
We estimate that about 4400 of these sets were made, and about 160 exist today, but only a handful are in working condition. The color rendition on this set was different from today's sets - it appeared deeper, but less brilliant. Here is Pete Deksnis's procedure for setting up the color balance for this set.
We have just acquired a second CT-100, with a good picture tube and a cabinet which is in excellent condition. It is substantially lighter than all the other CT-100s I have seen. RCA may have sold two finishes for the mahogany cabinet, or they may have aged differently. The new set in on the right.
The CT-100 Production Line
Courtesy of Dave Arland
A colorized picture of CT-100s coming off the production line. Shown tuning the set is Homer Edward Sylvester, who worked at the Bloomington, Indiana RCA plant.
Information courtesy of his brother Curt Sylvester