Instant Color TV Screen

For years I’ve shared my story with people of a 3 colored, plastic screen we used to place over our black and white TV screen to turn it into color, even those older than me who should remember, but NO ONE had any idea what I was talking about! NO ONE? There have to be some others out there who remember this interesting product! Ours was different from the one above, the colors were lighter. It was more evenly a third for each color, blue on top, yellowish white in the middle and green on the bottom. But you get the idea. It actually sort of worked for scenery, but obviously failed with people, especially close ups of their heads! It was a lot of fun trying though, and we were actually happy to have ours, over plain black and white. Many of you may not believe that, but it’s true, as kids we had a lot of fun with it. The same way kids these days love playing with cell phones to be like adults, we liked to pretend we had a real color TV.
Convert your black and white television into color! Only $19.99!
A few months ago I FINALLY found a couple of pictures of the screens and people actually TALKING about them…FINALLY! AND my sweetie’s aunt ABSOLUTELY remembers them! It’s nice to know you aren’t going crazy, but the memory is as real as you believed! It’s also nice to read about other people’s memories and see photos again after 35 years or so!
Just another quirky part of being a 1970’s kid! :>
ย Update: 3/29/18 – Joshua commented to tell us that Happy Days has a scene where they use a more solid version on their TV! The YouTube video cuts off the scene too early, but it’s still fun to see!! Enjoy!
Here are the other memories of this fun and quirky product for those from a generation of kids who found ways to entertain themselves:
So, at least 5 other people remember Instant Color TV Screen with me!
Do any of you remember them, or have some other obscure memory you alone have?
The NBC Peacock


107 thoughts on “Instant Color TV Screen

  1. How funny. I came upon your website actually with the help of my daughter because I was trying to show her this very thing that I’ve been talking about for years that my aunt had on her TV when I was a little girl. like you I knew I wasn’t crazy because I remembered it but I never heard anyone else talk about it. so to see it , it brought back very fond memories

      • I remember like yesterday and when my mother brought one, my siblings and I ran outside telling our friends we got a colored tv, that was too funny, especially when you look at it now, the good old days

    • I remember those thin plastic covers that had blue, red, and green colors melting into each other, but they didn’t look like the one in the picture here. The colors blended in and each color took up the same amount of space on the plastic. Seems like the plastic stuck to the TV screen. We used to pretend we had a color set using it. lol

      • We pretended ours was color too! And our colors were more evenly distributed as well, but these were the only photos I could find. They were made from Clingform, so they could temporarily “stick” to the TV. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • What you describe is what I remember also … not like the one in the picture above. My mother worked for Lillian Vernon in White Plains, NY (store location then and a catalog store wayyyy before the days of the Internet) and I was sooooo excited that after I told her I wanted to see what color television looked like, she brought one home one day for us to try. I was happy that she thought of me so I didn’t tell her I was a bit disappointed. I was really happy when I finally saw what color TV looked like years later! Soooo funny now and I’m glad that I’m not the only one who remembers.

    • I found this site because of this very topic. On two separate occasions, I have mentioned the color screen and no one remembered it. It’s good to know there are others like us who shared this experience. Thanks for posting such a fond memory.

    • I too rember those cheap color screens because my Dad bought it for our TV. I hated it and it gave me a headache to watch TV. Maybe that was his way to stop watching so much TV and help around the house more. LOL well it didn’t work because I chose to play and watch tv at our neighbors house. Lol

    • Same here, that was quite a task to convince my friends that I wasn’t lying!!!
      My grandoa had one when I was a kid.
      I have now the proof!!!!

  2. My grandparents got one of those for their TV and I just mentioned it on a friend’s page. Another of her friends shared this and I just had to pop on and say thanks for describing it so well. ๐Ÿ™‚ Like Kandy, I also have some fond memories of watching TV with my Nona and Pop.

  3. Thanks for confirming I’m not crazy! I kept asking several people my age if they remembered them, and they all looked at me as if I was from another planet! I’d love to see a really good picture of one.

  4. I do remember this, and also remember taking it off the screen when a program was mostly closeups of people – like the 15 minute long soap operas. :>) Glad to know my family wasn’t the only one who had a “color” TV. :>)

  5. I tried talking about this to my co-workers just to be laughed at. I told them I wasn’t making it up and after awhile I thought I did. I came across this article by accident (thank god), I cant wait till I go to work and prove to them I wasnt crazy after all.

  6. I not only remember these, but still have ours in it’s original box, with the price attached showing $1.99. A cheap price to pay for a color TV. My kids had a big laugh about it.

  7. I had a Great Aunt that had one. When I was 5-7 years in age she always had me sit next to the TV and change the 3 screens on her say so. I thought I was Mr. Big Stuff. That was from 1960 -1963.

  8. Finally ! My parents and only sibling are no longer with us anymore and I was telling my husband about this “colored screen” and I felt like I was losing my mind and he said to “Google” it and I found your post. Thank You ! I’m not insane. Whew ~ Becky in Cincinnati

    • It’s nice to know other people remember these, as I’ve only met one in real life! When I wrote this, I found only three people online that remembered them, but every single day I get people reading it! :>

  9. My dad bought a few of those sheets while working in the States and we were so happy to have a “colour” TV! My mum wasn’t really impressed though, I remember her yelling at my dad to “take that thing off the screen” lol!

  10. Wow I am so glad I came across your post. After a evening of fun with my family. My uncle and I were trying to explain this to my wife last night, after a few adult beverages of course, and by her being 16 yrs my junior she had no idea what we were talking about. So I decided to google it this morning and came across your page. Thanks for bringing this back to light, or shall I say color.

  11. Was just explaining this product to my wife, daughter and cousin. They thought I was kidding, trying to pull a fast one on them. So glad to find this article. Only problem is that now the think I’m a dinosaur.

  12. Hi I remember those TV screens. l Just had a conversation with my younger brother about those, he doesn’t remember them! Back then they were cutting edg technology (lol)! They were fine when they first came out, but after looking at them for a while it became tiring to look and my eyes went every which way ! I’m so glad we finally figured out how it should go …color in the screen and not on it!

  13. Right. My dad bought one from some mail order catalogue in the mid 1960s. It was clear plastic, the size of a television screen and it was blue (like the sky) across the top third, green (like grass) across the bottom third, and some neutral color (flesh tone?) across the middle third. It was designed, obviously, to change a b&w picture of an outdoor scene to the colors of someone standing on a green lawn beneath a clear blue sky. Of course there were few, if any shots, that were of that kind of scene and divided into those correct proportions. It was a nuisance and a waste — we never used it. A goofy idea that sounded good to an eight year old until you saw its limitations.

    • Yes! It hardly ever even looked decent, let alone good! But we still had fun with it. One of us would sit next to the TV and take it on and off according to the scene. Fascinating and irritating at the same time. Haha!

      • remember the scene from “Diner” in the appliance store? one of the guys was trying to sell this crusty old man a color TV set.
        he declined, demanded only B&W because color “made the Ponderosa look fake.”

  14. In 1966, as a 12 year old, I worked for my dad answering the phone in his office, when a guy came in, selling “color” tv’s that had “fallen off a truck” for fifty bucks! Plugged one in & the colors were in large horizontal stripes & the man said that was because it wasn’t hooked to an antenna. My dad bought one & the guy said he would come back tomorrow, when my dad said he would take a second one. So he paid for BOTH & the guy left with his hundred bucks, saying “See you tomorrow!” I looked at it & asked my dad why the picture was tiny stripes, like in a black&white tv & not dots like a color tv. He said “What are you talking about?” So we loosened the border around the screen, & guess what? Colored-plastic screen on a black&white tv! The guy never came back the next day…….we’re STILL waiting!

  15. I was happy to find your post, as it was very hard to explain this product to the grandchildren. I remember this being used on our set in 1965!

  16. I remember watcing the 1967 weorl series using a “color” dcreen like that. It looked great in shots of the outfield.

  17. Found your site during one of our random monthly heated-office-debates today. You may be happy to know your blog saved my fellow co-worker from being pummeled to death from everyone in the office (both older and younger) saying he was crazy/insane/lying etc. The argument ran way past lunch time and continued escalating, and it just now ended as I stumbled across your blog while scouring through google images in attempt to save his life.

    Thank you for this post!

  18. I found your blog when I searched google for “black and white tv color filter”. Just like you, I too was a child of the 70’s, and I remember these filters! Although we didn’t have one, I remember my parents talking about them and making fun of them because they were worthless (and yes, we had a black and white TV in the early 70’s). I might have seen one at a relative’s house, but I was very young, and I honestly don’t know for sure. But I do recall the heated talks about them, and me thinking how amazing it must be to have one of those.

    One thing I know for sure, these filters are the stuff of legend!

    • It worked horribly, but we still thought it was better! And hilarious on close ups of people! Ours was probably my grandparent’s before they had a color TV. It took us longer to get color also! ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. glad you posted this. i’ve been bugged by the memory of those things. never had one in my house but used to see vendors offering them at the Pennsauken Mart and Berlin Farmers’ Market, both in South Jersey, and they were available from the mid to late 1960’s to as late as the early 198o’s. The only difference is the ones that i saw were 4 colors – yellow was the fourth color. The Pennsauken Mart is gone, the place that everyone shopped at but no one would admit to doing so. As one coworker said,”I always put on a dirty T-shirt before going there so i ‘blend.'” Right. great for some sociological studies.
    BTW i work with someone who had one of those screens in her house when she was growing up, first person that i’ve known who admits to such.

  20. shoot! Forgot to ad. Another thing from that time period, signs that read “Color TV by RCA” in colorful letters on a black background that would light up at night, usually hung underneath a motel’s roadside sign. these, too, were around in the early 1980’s and you may still see one here and there.

  21. I remember this and what is funny when I talked about it, no one seemed to remember and then one of my friends mentioned it and and I said, I know I wasn’t crazy or may I was for watching it and thinking, wow this is color T.V. ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. I am sitting here in Western Australia trying to explain to my adult kids about the poor person’s colour TV of the 60s. They did not believe me. Found this site and showed them the product. They thought it was hilarious.

    • you’re lucky that you don’t have to explain “mechanical TV” – i believe that was the name, an early form of television involving a lot of wheel turning, lots of makeup and special lighting to barely get a picture. i think i heard about it through a “Modern Marvels” episode on televisions. see also and Google found some other web sites on this theme.

  23. I just came across our old plastic TV screen cover. We got it in the late 40’s or real early 50’s. Boy I wonder if it is worth anything?

    • i would like to see a photograph as well.
      people collect anything and everything so no doubt there is someone or some organization out there willing to buy it.
      also, check with one of the museums of television and/or broadcasting history and see if they’re interested or know of any organization that is.

  24. just remembered a great quote from the movie “Diner.”
    one of the young men is a salesman in an appliance store. (You realize one day we may have to explain what those where!)
    crusty old man is shopping for a new TV but won’t buy a color one.
    “Because it makes the Ponderosa look fake.”
    probably true, if you look at the painted sets that they used back then, they probably went better with B&W sets than color ones.
    i’ve heard from two sources from the original “Perry Mason” show that whatever network they broadcasted on came to them and said “we’re going with all color shows, and we want you to film an episode in color.”
    that meant special sets, special lighting, special clothing – and the show had to pay for all of it themselves.
    that was the only episode filmed in color ’cause the network claimed that they liked what they saw – but they decided to “kill” the series anyhow.

    • Television studio sets for black and white broadcast often had colors that wouldn’t look good on a color TV. In some cases, the cost of repainting and re-doing the sets delayed a show from switching to color for awhile. Sometimes a show switched while still using the old set pieces and changed later. The Lawrence Welk show is an example where the first color broadcasts show the musicians’ stands still painted in black and white. They were shortly painted in some sort of mauve or pink colors which looked much better on color TV.

      • “perry Mason” really got bitten hard by whatever their network was. THey were told that the network was going to all-color shows and wanted them to produce a color episode. The production company was not given any financial aid in that – new set, new lighting, new wardrobes. they did one episode and the network said “Thanks but we decided we’re dropping you anyway.”

  25. Working on my journal, looking up things from my childhood – this was high on my list. I’ve never had anybody doubt it – I have a VERY vivid memory of this! I would’ve been about 9 [in ’64]. We went to a local general store where you could buy everything [just like Wally World today]. As the shopping cart was wheeled up to the back of the station wagon, my younger brother and I were directed to get into the back seat instead of hopping into the back cargo area – this was back before seat belts, kids. As we took off, my parents got very excited talking about the brand new color TV they had purchased at the store. I thought our eyes were going to bug out! We spent the whole ride home losing our minds trying to figure out how they had gotten a color TV into the back of the car when all we could see were 4 paper grocery bags. They played us like a fiddle. When we got home, we were ordered to our room to wait while dad got the brand new color TV out of the station wagon and set it up in the front room.

    It took forever [probably more like 15 minutes, but that’s forever in kid years]. Finally we were able to run down the hallway to see… the tri-colored film on our b/w TV. It was – bizarre to say the least. We flipped channels [that didn’t take long], expecting it to get better, but it didn’t. It was a Saturday afternoon [after the cartoons were over] and that usually meant dead space to little boys who wanted to go outside and play. But mom and dad were determined not to let the $2 the paid go to waste. We wound up watching THE THIEF OF BAGHDAD [1940]. By the time the movie was over, we were allowed to go outside and play. By the time we got indoors, the film was gone – and so was our ‘color TV’. We never talked about it again – except once in awhile my brother and I walk down memory lane, or I’ll regale my grandkids with tales of woe and it’ll come up.

    It was real. It was sad. It was the ’60s – in color.

    • I LOVE your story! My husband and I were laughing so hard as I read it out loud just now! It’s amazing the way something so odd can leave us with such vivid memories. We used ours more than once, but not too much, yet I can remember it clear as last week! I think we used it more as a joke than a real help. We had ours about 10 years later than you, and I was near your same age. Most people had color TVs by then, but we didn’t yet. That’s why we were hopeful, at first, that it would be better. I suppose that is the way your parents felt as they built it up for you kids!! :p

      • Oh, they had a wonderful time playing with our brains all the way home – couldn’t have been more than a 30 minute drive – but they milked it for all it was worth. “Don’t you boys dare get into the back and touch that new color TV or we’ll whip you within an inch of your life!” [said in that voice parents have that lets you know they mean it!] My 5-year old brother and I were losing our minds trying to figure out how they had managed to get a color TV into the back of the station wagon in just a few paper grocery bags! Of course in those days, we could get up on our knees on the back seat and face backwards [heck, half the time we just rode in the back cargo area – climbing from the seat into the back and vice-versa]. But not being able to get into the back to see THE MOST AMAZING THING a kid in the mid-60’s could possibly imagine… being the first kids on the block to have color TV! Yeah, you could say they played us like a fiddle. At the time I didn’t quite understand it all, but as an adult, having raised my own 3 boys and played tricks of my own on them [and my 18 grandkids], I can see I’ve obviously forgotten what a hoot this was for mom and dad – they must have had a hard time to keep from peeing themselves watching us squirm! The story has only become funnier as the years go by. Thanks for hosting the facts [and a photo] of how this scam-product worked. I’m shocked at how many years it was available to the public. It seems such a $1 Store item now that I’m an adult, but as a 9 year-old it was magical [while it was a secret – once on the TV it didn’t remain magical for very long – movie notwithstanding].

      • Haha! That’s exactly what I thought! If we’d HAD $1 stores back then, that’s where it would have been in my mind! Our favorite spot in our station wagon was the very back because the seat faced the cars behind us. It was also GREAT to put the two seats flat for long trips so we could nap on the way.

  26. I absolutely remember that. My father came home with one sometime in the 1950’s. There were a LOT of westerns at the time and I’m sure the colors were arranged to enhance the outdoor scenes. Green for grass at the bottom, brown for rocks and mountains in the middle, and blue for the sky. I remember that it was surprisingly effective. I’m sure some process in the brain helped. When you had the scenes inside the saloons and such where the colors made no sense, you tended to just ignore the colors. But for many outside scenes, they looked much better than the black and white.

  27. There’s an episode of Happy Days where they use one…at the very end of season 1 episode 15. They make a joke that it only looks right If you are directly in front of it..and of corse the dad puts it on upside down. I thought that was super cool.

  28. we had the screen as well when first had televisionb but what about the vertical
    hold buttin to stop screen jumping

  29. My mom has one and is curious what the value of it Today might be(a cousin told her it was of some value)!?!? Thatโ€™s how I ended up here, so if you know where I might find some more info Iโ€™d appreciate it. She bought hers for a $1.00 in the 1950โ€™s!
    Andrea Slack

  30. I was probably aged 4 or 5 when I first saw one of these on my parents TV. I was fascinated because there were people with odd coloured faces, and lots of other things too just didn’t appear right, but it was coloured and was deemed to be posh.

  31. Funny. We had ine too in Ireland and used it for quite a while as kids.was described in maik order as beautiful.pastel colours.
    As you require a tv licence in ireland to watch tv we even fooled the tv licence man who on looking hrough the window thought we had a colour tv,which required a more expensieve tv licence.innocent times

  32. Found your page online as this product is being discussed right now on Facebook on a group entitled: ‘The History of American Television” – HA! “SEE everything on your TELEVISION SET in ‘Thrilling COLOR!’ for $2.98”

  33. I am 72 years old and I remember very well my mother installing the scree on our black and white TV set.
    Monreal Canada

  34. I definitely remember going to my aunt’s house and watching television with the color film. I was looking to post on Facebook that I’m this old with a picture of the film. I’m glad I finally found others that remember.

  35. Finally someone remembers the plastic screens for black and white tvs. I was asking my family about this very item a few weeks back. No one remembered it but me. I was beginning to think I dreamed it up !!!

  36. I am 62 and I remember seeing it in mail order catalogs. Where can I get one now? My older TV is color but the picture looks washed out. My brother told me that the picture is going out. Other than that the television is working fine. Any suggestions?

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