Sunday, 25 July 2021

never an after-thirst with squirt

First broadcast on this day in 1967 during a commercial break from the WWII drama television series, the network aired a minute-long advertisement for the citrus-flavour soft drink called Squirt—which for ten-seconds appeared as muted but in living colour, even for the vast majority of households at the time who owned black-and-white TV sets.

With no general forewarning, I suspect a good number of viewers thought that they were losing their minds—or at least sense of sight and were hallucinating the flashes of colour. Those bursts were in fact the result of clever and carefully calibrated optical illusions developed by inventor James F. Butterfield the year prior, having found that working with optometrists and visual neuroscientists that the brain could be coaxed into processing colours that were not there by modulating the pulses of white light and could encode for a set of basic colours filtering a black-and-white camera field with a rotating device.
Butterfield called this outcome subjective colour. Because of the mechanical and physiological limitations—it was not a universal experience and the range of colours were limited and not very vibrant—and actual colour models were being introduced and becoming more affordable just as this technology was emerging, nothing more unfortunately came from this innovation and line of invesigation.