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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Early Plasma Displays

In the 1960s, an alternative display technology emerged that used a charged gas trapped between two glass plates. When a charge was applied across the sheets in certain locations, a glowing pattern emerged. One of the earliest computer devices to use a plasma display was the PLATO IV terminal. Later, companies such as IBM and GRiD experimented with the relatively thin, lightweight displays in portable computers. The technology never took off for PCs, but it surfaced again years later in flat-panel TV sets.

Photos: Simon Bisson, Corestore, Steven Stengel

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