The History of Computer Display: LCD and Plasma Display

Since 1940, computers were used to process data. Technological advancement in computing began in the 1960s. Experiments were performed to develop sophisticated hardware, which paved the path to manufacturing computers with interactive features in the 1980s. Great inventions were made in the field of Computer Displays and Computer Graphics. This was the beginning of interactive communications that we today call World Wide Web.

The History of Computer Display begins with the early Teletype Monitor. The Teletype Monitor became possible when Electrical Telegraphy was created in 1809 by Samuel Thomas von Sommering, a German physician, anatomist and inventor. Samuel’s Electrical Telegraphy was based on a design created in 1804 by Fransciso salva Campillo, a Spanish polymath and scientist. By 1902, telegraph was widely used for distance communication. Telegraphs used teletypes to send codes over the wire.

Cathode Tube Display was a major lead in Computer display.  Cathode Tube Display, or CRT in short, was invented by Karl Ferdinand Braun. CRT is a vacuum tube that has one or more electronic gun and a phosphorescent screen. It produces images by modulating, accelerating and deflecting electron beams on the screen.

For many years CRT was the common display mechanism in computer monitors and television until Liquid Crystal Displays (LCD) and Plasma Display were invented.

Liquid Crystal Displays (LCD)

Though the liquid crystal display was developed in 1960, this technology was not used until 1970s when pocket calculators and wristwatches were launched. These LCDs were monochrome and low contrast.

In the early 1990s, LCD technology was mainly used in laptops because of their low power consumption, light weight, and small size. Later Thin Film Transistor (TFT) was developed as alternative to LCD. These days most of the computer displays use TFT-LCD technology.

Experiments in desktop LCD monitors had been carried since early 1980, but they were not only expensive but also delivered bad performance compared to prevalent CRTs.  The technology consistently improved throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Emphasis was given to color capabilities and more contrast, and even backlight for night viewing. In 1997, computer companies such as ViewSonic, IBM, and Apple introduced color LCD monitors. These color LCD monitors were comparatively smaller than CRT monitors. In 2007, LCD monitors replaced CRT monitors. LCD monitors also paved the way for laptops.

Plasma Displays

In the 1960s an alternative display technology evolved. Charged gas was trapped between two glass sheets and a glowing pattern emerged. This was the advent of Plasma Display. Though the computer companies such as IBM and GRiD carried extensive research, this technology was not popularized until flat-panel TV sets were invented.

In the follow up article, we will discuss about Light-Emitting Diode, 3D Monitor and Touch Screen.

3 thoughts on “The History of Computer Display: LCD and Plasma Display”

  1. Sameer Mohmad says:

    Hello Vinaya, this article as usual shows your level of expertise in the filed of writing. A lot of today’s most well-known and technologically advanced screens have roots in previous decades. Thanks for your articles.

  2. Robiul Islam says:

    Very intersteing & Instructive Article . . . many many Thanks Sir , i am wating for your next post

  3. abhinav says:

    very nice and informative post

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