Abbreviation for National Television Systems Committee, which devised the color NTSC television broadcast system in 1953. NTSC is also commonly used to refer to one type of television signal that can be recorded on various tape formats such as VHS, 3/4″ U-matic and Betacam. When color TV took over from black and white the Federal Communications Commission established the NTSC standard for broadcasts in the United States. This system was later chosen by a number of other countries including Japan, Korea, Philippines, Taiwan, Canada and Mexico. Many other countries later adopted other standards, such as PAL and SECAM. These various standards are not compatible with one another, though there are ways to convert from one to the other. There are lists of the standards in place for various countries available on the Web.
The NTSC standard of 525 lines of resolution per second combines blue, red, and green signals with an FM frequency for audio. In spite of all of its faults (it is sometime affectionately known as Never Twice the Same Color) NTSC provided a way to transmit color signals while still having them show up properly on black and white sets; a requirement set forth by the FCC. They accomplished the addition of the extra color information into a compatible black and white signal in part by slightly slowing down the frame rate causing SMPTE to devise the much maligned drop-frame video (see WFTD archive Drop Frame Time Code) standard. NTSC should begin to go the way of the dinosaur, however, with the impending arrival of HDTV, or high-definition TV. The FCC has ordered TV stations to be transmitting digital HDTV signals by 2003, and some will be broadcasting by 1999. A few years after that NTSC will, for all practical purposes, begin to disappear.