On Star Trek: The Original Series

Foreword: Boarding the Enterprise

The Trouble With Trek
By David Gerrold

It was supposed to be just another television show. Really. Not even the folks who were making it had any idea that it might become something more. Not at the beginning–and not for a long time afterward, either.

The year was 1966, and NBC had just committed itself to broadcast all of its programs in color.

When television broadcasting began in 1949, all television was in black and white. The images were flickery and fuzzy, but Americans bought millions and millions of black-and-white television receivers for the privilege of watching Milton Berle in their own living rooms. Then, along about 1953, RCA invented color television. The pictures were blurry, but they were bright and they were in color.

Unfortunately, there weren’t a lot of programs being broadcast in color, and without any programs in color, Americans wouldn’t buy color sets to replace their old black-and-white boxes. So it took a while for color television to penetrate the market–about ten years.

By 1964, color television manufacturing had become profitable, but there were still a lot of shows on the air in black and white. RCA owned a television network, NBC. They decided that the network should go all color, all the time, to help sell more color television receivers.

And so it began.

The executives at NBC understood that color television was still something of an infant technology. The sets were tricky to tune, and if the viewer saw anything less than a perfect picture, he’d blame the set and the  …

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