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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Present-Day Monitors

Today, LCD monitors (many widescreen) are standard across the PC industry (except for tiny niche applications). Ever since desktop LCD monitors first outsold CRT monitors in 2007, their sales and market share have continued to climb. Recently, LCD monitors have become so inexpensive that many people experiment with dual-monitor setups like the one shown here. A recent industry trend emphasizes monitors that support 3D through special glasses and ultrahigh refresh rates.

With most TV sets becoming fully digital, the lines between monitor and TV are beginning to blur just as they did in the early 1980s. You can now buy a 42-inch high-def flat-panel display for under $999 that you can hook to your computer, something that would make anyone's head explode if you could convey the idea to people in the 1940s--back when they were still using paper.

Photos: Asus, Go.Video, Samsung

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A brief history of computer displays

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