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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The Early Teletype Monitor

Prior to the invention of the electronic computer, people had been using teletypes to communicate over telegraph lines since 1902. A teletype is an electric typewriter that communicates with another teletype over wires (or later, over the radio) using a special code. By the 1950s, engineers were hooking teletypes up to computers directly, to use them as display devices. The teletypes provided a continuous printed output of a computer session. They remained the least expensive way to interface with computers until the mid-1970s.

Photo: Systems Engineering Laboratories

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