In Brief: The Origins of Color TV Broadcast Standards

By Norman Chan

And how color calibration techniques had consequences beyond television.

I really loved this recent feature from The Atlantic, telling the story of the bitter rivalry between CBS and RCA in the development of a color TV broadcast standard. At the center of this battle were the so-called "color girls"--models hired by the two companies to assist in the color calibration of the cameras used for their respective technologies. The legacy of those women extend to well beyond the formation of the NTSC, in the intrinsic visual and racial biases built into those technologies. A thought-provoking history lesson in technology that's particularly relevant given the recent missteps in Google Photos' face-tagging feature.