See the first recorded color TV broadcast (featuring Ike in color!)

At 1:21 in this video, NBC President Robert Sarnoff presses a button and makes history: he starts the first recorded color broadcast. When Dwight D. Eisenhower appears seconds later, he becomes the first President in color.

The recording remains a major milestone for color TV, though it wasn’t the first color broadcast. That occurred in 1954 for the Tournament of Roses parade. But since earlier broadcasts weren’t recorded, the 1958 broadcast remains our first tape of color TV. The images of the President were actually recorded in Burbank, CA, thousands of miles from the Washington DC broadcast.

There’s more information about the restoration of the tape, but even without a technical background, it’s clear that May 22, 1958 was a landmark day.

If Ike’s speech seems half-hearted, it may be because politics wasn’t television-dependent yet. In addition to that, no one really knew how color worked. Notice how the President’s shirt is a light blue? That’s probably not because he was fashion-forward. On black and white TV, light blue worked better than white, and Eisenhower’s clothing was still optimized for a black and white world.

By October, NBC had begun more commercial color recording. An Evening With Fred Astaire remains one of the oldest surviving tapes, though Ike tap-danced into the record books first.

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Which transition was more important: radio to TV, or black and white TV to color?