OSA's Digital Library

Journal of the Optical Society of America

Journal of the Optical Society of America

  • Vol. 49, Iss. 1 — Jan. 1, 1959
  • pp: 45–55

Identification of Signal Lights. I. Blue, Green, White, and Purple

RITA M. HALSEY  »View Author Affiliations

JOSA, Vol. 49, Issue 1, pp. 45-55 (1959)

View Full Text Article

Acrobat PDF (1249 KB)

Browse Journals / Lookup Meetings

Browse by Journal and Year


Lookup Conference Papers

Close Browse Journals / Lookup Meetings

Article Tools



One hundred observers identified by name fifty blue, green, white, and purple test colors. Small areas and low illuminances were used to simulate conditions under which signal lights must be recognized. The results are expressed as chromaticity zones within which the test colors were assigned a given color name with various degrees of certainty. Large individual differences in color naming were found. Variability due to intensity and viewing distance is also demonstrated. The data can be applied to the specification of boundaries for colored signals.

RITA M. HALSEY, "Identification of Signal Lights. I. Blue, Green, White, and Purple," J. Opt. Soc. Am. 49, 45-55 (1959)

Sort:  Author  |  Journal  |  Reset


  1. Technical Committee 1.3.3.: Colours of Signal Lights. Commission Internationale de l'Eclairage, Compte Rendu, 13th Session, Zurich, 1955.
  2. N. E. G. Hill, Proc. Phys. Soc. (London) 59, 560 (1947); J. G. Holmes, Trans. Illum. Soc. (London) 6, 71 (1941); H. J. Mc-Nicholas, J. Research Natl. Bur. Standards 17, 955 (1936).
  3. R. M. Halsey and A. Chapanis, J. Opt. Soc. Am. 44, 442 (1954).
  4. H. G. Sperling and D. Farnsworth, Med. Research Lab. Report No. 154 (1950).
  5. F. C. Breckenridge and W. R. Schaub, J. Opt. Soc. Am. 29, 370 (1939).
  6. A number of recent investigations have shown that the calculation of luminance according to the C.I.E. system may result in erroneous values for lights containing a wide band of spectral radiation. W. E. K. Middleton and H. S. T. Gottfried, in Illum. Eng. 52, 192 (1957), show that the discrepancies between calculated and visual estimates of the intensities of signal lights may be considerable.
  7. For these particular primary filters and these particular restrictions on the proportions of the primaries, the locus of all mixtures having equal illuminance is given on the C.I.E. diagram by [Equation] for "High" illuminance, and by[Equation] for "Low," where K = illuminance in mile-candles. These illuminances correspond closely to relative transmission values for actual filters of different purities, according to data supplied by F. C. Breckenridge (personal communication). See also footnote 6.
  8. Table A, Appendix to the Secretariat Report of the Technical Committee 1.3.3, reference 1.
  9. Ellis M. Taft, HM2, U. S. Navy, served skillfully in this capacity; his assistance is gratefully acknowledged.
  10. For the effect of background brightness on thresholds for certain red, yellow, green, and white signals, see: N. E. G. Hill, Proc. Phys. Soc. (London) 59, 574 (1947).
  11. Section, Annex to Recommendation 1.3.3, reference 1.
  12. F. C. Breckenridge (personal communication).
  13. K. L. Kelly, J. Opt. Soc. Am. 33, 627 (1943).
  14. R. W. Pickford, Individual Differences in Colour Vision (Routledge and Kegan Paul Ltd., London, 1951), p. 198.
  15. For example, see Otto Klineberg, Social Psychology (Henry Holt and Company, New York, 1940), p. 204; C. S. Myers, An Introduction to Experimental Psychology (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1911), pp. 29–41; Pickford, reference 14, pp. 31 and 34, cites a 1925 edition of the latter.

Cited By

Alert me when this paper is cited

OSA is able to provide readers links to articles that cite this paper by participating in CrossRef's Cited-By Linking service. CrossRef includes content from more than 3000 publishers and societies. In addition to listing OSA journal articles that cite this paper, citing articles from other participating publishers will also be listed.

« Previous Article  |  Next Article »

OSA is a member of CrossRef.

CrossCheck Deposited