Color TV was introduced to the US in 1953 (according to Wikipedia).

But throughout the series all we can see are black and white TV's. Is there an explanation (in universe or out) to why the state-of-the-art* spaceship has no color TVs?

I haven't got a screen cap but when the monitor in the bridge

intercepts Alf

it's in black and white. I would have expected it to be in color as it was produced in color.

* I'm assuming is was supposed to be state-of-the-art as the government would have put a lot of money into it..


1 Answer 1


I think this review by ScifiStorm puts it very nicely, the ship (as portrayed by Sea to Sky Studios) is a hodge-podge of both futuristic and anachronistic technology, styled on 1960s tech but not completely beholden to it.

Technology-wise they seem to be right as well. Using early 1960s technology as the basis, you see black and white monitors, reel video recorders with poor resolution, mechanical devices with large lighted buttons, etc. But there are refinements as well. The elevator itself appears futuristic. They have “video cartridges” which look like they could be something like USB drives (but perhaps contain recording tape similar to 8-track or the more modern DLT/LTO data formats).

And apparently while on board in the 1973 they created the Stenotab, which eventually evolves to look suspiciously like a thick iPad…presumably there are manufacturing and fabrication systems on board, but being able to advance to modern computer technology I would expect to be very difficult if not impossible. Especially without any input from Earth. Theoretically Earth can send information to Ascension, but if they were halfway to Proxima, it would take two years to reach it…so technical data (say, perhaps, for the transistor and how to fabricate it) could be sent, but conversations and advice based on current events would be impossible.

You may also wish to note that real-world space programs have always tended to lag behind consumer technology. Missions are often planned years, if not decades in advance and there's no overwhelming need to use the latest technology when existing solutions can be found.

  • 2
    They also lag behind so that consumers do a lot of the robustness testing I suspect :) Jan 8, 2015 at 11:31
  • 1
    @Dreamwalker - Yes, very much so. Also when there are multiple dependencies, switching to a new solution can push a project back months due to the need to ensure that everything down the chain is also compatible.
    – Valorum
    Jan 8, 2015 at 11:37
  • 2
    There is also a tendency in Aerospace to utilize technology that is well established with long track records or for robustness. For example, the RCA 1802 was used for many space missions, it was older and less advanced than chips being used to run talking dolls and calculators at the time, and it was under-clocked to 25% of it's intended speed, but it was very robust. Assembly technology for spacecraft and other aircraft is decades behind the processes being used for automobiles. Jan 8, 2015 at 12:33
  • 3
    The show implied that many of our own developments actually came from the experts on board Ascension. Jan 8, 2015 at 18:32

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.