Humans are trichromats. That means we see in three basic colors: red, green, and blue (RGB). These are the additive primary colors. Our brain knits these three colors together to create all the different colors we see. Trichromy is the three-color process used in photography that generates the colors that our eyes can see.
Some history. The first photograph was taken in 1827. In the 1860s the first color images were created. In 1935, Kodak invented Kodachrome. Kodachrome had three layers of emulsion coated on a single base, each layer recording one of the three additive primaries. Kodachrome was fundamentally three black and white films that had color dyes added to them in processing. During processing the black and white imagery was also removed. When all layers were properly aligned and viewed together, you saw color.
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