By 1954, Graham and his staff of 15 artists had toiled for almost a decade within the limited black, white and gray palette of 50's television. For any artist, it would be frustrating, and even more so for Graham, an art lover who was strongly influenced by Picasso. All that was about to change because of a long-term and intense competition between CBS and NBC to develop and gain governmental approval of a color television system. FCC approval of NBC's 'compatible color' system came in late 1953, and color television would finally become a reality on January 1, 1954, with NBC's coast-to-coast colorcast of the Pasadena Rose Parade.
For the landmark Rose Parade telecast, NBC's famous Chimes (the famous
'Bing-Bong-Bing' sound) were rendered in red, blue, and green.
Early RCA TK-40 color television cameras were also adorned with this
NBC, owned at the time by electronics giant RCA, was charged with spurring public interest in buying the first generation of pricey (around $1,000) color television receivers. As NBC added more color programming to their schedule, it became clear that viewers watching in black and white needed to be reminded that these shows would best be appreciated on a color TV (and hopefully on an RCA Color TV).
John Graham was the obvious choice to create such an icon. Already steeped in the corporate culture, and having designed the on air look for NBC, its owned and operated stations and affiliates across the country, Graham further supervised the layout of special NBC publications and dozens of trade ads. His influence spread into the real world by creating the visual look of annual NBC press junkets and affiliate conventions.
Graham's task was to design something compelling.
Something to let the black-and-white set owner know that he was missing
out on the full picture. Something
that would make him go out and purchase an expensive color TV set
manufactured by RCA.
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