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History of display technology

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Title: History of display technology  
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Subject: Twisted nematic field effect, Display technology, Display device, Cathode ray tube, Computing output devices
Collection: Computing Output Devices, Display Technology, History of Television
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

History of display technology

Electrically operated display devices have developed from electromechanical systems for display of text, up to all-electronic devices capable of full-motion 3D color graphic displays. Electromagnetic devices, using a solenoid coil to control a visible flag or flap, were the earliest type, and were used for text displays such as stock market prices and arrival/departure display times. The cathode ray tube was the workhorse of text and video display technology for several decades until being displaced by plasma, liquid crystal (LCD) and solid-state devices such as LEDs and OLEDs. With the advent of microprocessors and microelectronic devices, many more individual picture elements ("pixels") could be incorporated into one display device, allowing graphic displays and video.


  • History 1
  • Cathode ray tube 2
    • Monochrome CRT 2.1
    • Color CRT 2.2
    • Direct-View Bistable Storage Tube 2.3
  • Flip-flap/disc display 3
  • Monochrome plasma display 4
  • Light-emitting diode 5
  • Eggcrate display 6
  • Vacuum fluorescent display 7
  • Twisted nematic field effect LCD 8
  • Super-twisted nematic LCD 9
  • Pin screen 10
  • Thin film transistor LCD 11
  • Full-color plasma display 12
  • Organic light-emitting diode 13
  • Electronic paper 14
  • Electroluminescent display 15
  • Stroboscopic display 16
  • See also 17
  • References 18


One of the earliest electronic displays is the [1] CRTs were the single most popular display technology used in television sets and computer monitors for over half a century; it was not until the 2000s that LCDs began to gradually replace them.

A derivative of CRTs were [2]

Cathode ray tube

Monochrome CRT

1922 Monochrome cathode ray tube:

Dual trace, showing different time bases on each trace.

Color CRT

1954 [1]


Direct-View Bistable Storage Tube

1968[2] The Direct-View Bistable Storage Tube CRT retains static information displayed upon it, written using a steerable electron beam that can be turned off. In principle the DVBST is similar to an Etch-a-Sketch, and was used in vector displays of early computers and in oscilloscopes.

Tektronix 4014 with a "DVBST" storage display screen

Flip-flap/disc display

1957 Split-flap display:

1961 Flip-disc display:


Monochrome plasma display

1964 Monochrome plasma display:

Plasma displays were first used in PLATO computer terminals. This PLATO V model illustrates the display's monochromatic orange glow as seen in 1988.

Light-emitting diode

1968 Light-emitting diode:

LED destination displays on buses, one with a colored route number.
Outdoor 4 x 3 m large LED screen in Jelgava, Latvia.

Eggcrate display

1968 Eggcrate display

Vacuum fluorescent display

1967 Vacuum fluorescent display as used in consumer electronics.

Vacuum fluorescent display used in a videocassette recorder.
VFD raster display

Twisted nematic field effect LCD

1971 Twisted nematic field effect LCD [3] [4]

Super-twisted nematic LCD

1984 Super-twisted nematic display (STN LCD) to improve passive-matrix LCDs, allowing for the first time higher resolution panels with 540x270 pixels.

Prototype Brown Boveri STN LCD with 540x270 pixels

Pin screen

Pin screen:

1969 Braille display:[5]

Refreshable Braille display

Thin film transistor LCD

1986 Color Thin film transistor liquid crystal display:[6]

An ASUS Eee PC netbook.

Full-color plasma display

1995 Full-color plasma display:[7]

A Samsung PN50B450 50-inch Plasma HDTV, an example of a modern Plasma television.

Organic light-emitting diode


  1. ^ a b – – Picture Tubes, 15GP22 Color CRT
  2. ^ a b – Tektronix 4014
  3. ^ Voltage-Dependent Optical Activity of a Twisted Nematic Liquid Crystal (TN-LCD); M. Schadt and W. Helfrich. Phys. Rev. Lett. 27, 561 (1971)
  4. ^ Joseph Castellano, "Modifying Light', American Scientist, September–October 2006
  5. ^ U.S. Patent 3,594,787;
  6. ^ – Note on the Liquid Crystal Display Industry
  7. ^ – Television Development
  8. ^ – Lighting industry, Structure and technology in the transition to solid state
  9. ^ WP-de Organische Leuchtdiode 2011-05-17
  10. ^ – E-paper production flow – Adapting production workflow processes for digital newsprint
  11. ^ – Patent application title: Personal article with electron luminescent display
  12. ^ Stroboscopic display on the Soviet calculator "RASA" (video)
  13. ^ Soviet made "RASA" electronic calculator with stroboscopic display


See also

1960s Stroboscopic display:[12][13] In the 1960s RASA Calculator (Russian), a small motor spins a cylinder that has rings of transparent numerals. Each ring makes one digit of the calculator's display. The numbers from zero to nine are in each ring. To display a numeral, the calculator briefly flashes a light behind it.

Stroboscopic display

1974 Electroluminescent display (ELD):[11]

Electroluminescent display

iLiad in sunlight
iLiad E-book reader equipped with e-paper display

2004 Electronic paper:[10]

Electronic paper

2003 Active-matrix OLED (AMOLED):[9]

Sony XEL-1, the world's first OLED TV


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