Seeing The Future In Psychedelic Color

While flipping the hundreds of TV channels as the snow blanketed the pavement of NYC, muting the sounds of garbage trucks and sirens, backed up traffic as the horns honked with frustrated drivers, stuck, trapped on the white powdered concrete streets, sniffing the fresh odor permeating the clarity of white, I chanced across some old TV shows I hadn’t seen in years. The Time Tunnel, Land of The Giants, Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea and Lost In Space, evoking memories of past’s portrayal of the future in times long gone.

It was hard to acknowledge that I was conscious and alert during the very first season all three major networks broad-casted color television on prime time, spearheaded largely by NBC in 1965. ABC and CBS followed suit in the 1966-67 season. My brand new 32″ Zenith television set sat proudly in the living room on its custom-designed hand-assembled stand with wheels, purchased with a MACY’s credit card.

When turned on for the very first time, it took a minute or two to warm up as the tubes heated and the screen began to gleam all sorts of color, for it was September 8, 1966 around 8:30 – 9:30pm, and the very first episode of Star Trek was aired on NBC, Stardate 1513.1. The Man Trap, a shape shifting, salt-craving creature terrorizes the crew of the Enterprise 1701 in vivid green against a backdrop of psychedelic colors, skimpy uniforms, three dimensional chess and cheesy props long before digital remastering was ever conceived.

Imagine what life was like before color, a Twilight Zone of white, black and grays with monotone sound. A transforming moment seeing a purple colored wall, an orange sky and Gatorade blue liquid served at some ambassadorial function. Star Trek was one of the most colorful series in history, even before the current digital restoration that highlighted the drama and intrigue, also distracting the audience from deficits in the props, special effects or storyline.

Although constant readjustment of the color and contrast without benefit of a remote control was necessary, as the commercials betrayed an overly reddish or greenish hue. The switch to color and a Swanson’s TV dinner on a snack table was the ultimate way to see the future in living color during the Sixties.