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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Punch Cards In, Punch Cards Out

The ENIAC, among other early electronic computers, used Hollerith punched cards as both input and output. To write a program, an operator typed on a typewriter-like machine that encoded the instructions into a pattern of holes punched into a paper card. A person then dropped a stack of cards into the computer, which read and ran the program. For output, the computer punched encoded results onto blank punch cards, which operators then had to decode with a device like the IBM 405 tabulator (shown at right), which tallied and printed card values onto sheets of paper.

Photos: Computer History Museum, IBM, Benj Edwards

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