A brief history of computer displays

From blinking lights and punch cards to LCDs and 3D flat panels, we trace the 70-year history of the tech that users rely on to see what a computer is doing.

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Composite Video Out

Teletypes (even paper-based ones) cost a fortune in 1974--far out of reach of the individual in the do-it-yourself early PC days. Seeking cheaper alternatives, three people (Don Lancaster, Lee Felsenstein, and Steve Wozniak) hit on the same idea at the same time: Why not build a cheap terminal device using an inexpensive CCTV video monitor as a display? It wasn't long before both Wozniak and Felsenstein built such video terminals into computers (the Apple I and the Sol-20, respectively), creating the first computers with factory video outputs in 1976.

Photos: Steven Stengel, Michael Holley

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A brief history of computer displays

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