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 Desktop LCDs

Computer companies had experimented with desktop LCD monitors since the 1980s in small numbers, but those monitors tended to cost a lot and offer horrible performance in comparison with the more prevalent CRTs. That changed around 1997, when a number of vendors such as ViewSonic (left), IBM (center), and Apple (right) introduced color LCD monitors with qualities that could finally begin to compete with CRT monitors at a reasonable price. These LCDs used less desk space, consumed less electricity, and generated far less heat than CRTs, which made them attractive to early adopters.

Photos: ViewSonic, IBM, Apple

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