Interesting facts about computer monitors

A computer monitor is an output device that displays information in pictorial or text form.

The display device in modern monitors is typically a thin film transistor liquid crystal display (TFT-LCD) with LED backlighting having replaced cold-cathode fluorescent lamp (CCFL) backlighting. Previous monitors used a cathode ray tube (CRT) and some Plasma (also called Gas-Plasma) displays. Monitors are connected to the computer via VGA, Digital Visual Interface (DVI), HDMI, DisplayPort, USB-C, low-voltage differential signaling (LVDS) or other proprietary connectors and signals.

Early computer monitors are unrecognizable from today’s best, modern monitor counterparts. The first displays were, essentially, a number of light bulbs. These lights would be turned on or off to indicate what components of the computer were being used at any given moment. Most visual data in the early days were printed out on paper for engineers to look at. This simple bulb-based design dates all the way back to 1897, having been invented by German scientist Karl Ferdinand Braun.

With the help of CRT, we were able to see a video on the screen. In 1942, the two men formed the first “Automatic Electronic Digital Computer” in the Atanasoff-Berry Computer in the United States. But there are different types of monitors in the world today.

On 1 March 1973, Xerox Alto computer was introduced, which had the first computer monitor. This monitor included a monochrome display and used CRT technology.

It took until the early 1970s for cathode-ray tube (CRT) technology, already widely used as the core of television sets, to be adapted for use as computer displays. Though color televisions started to grow increasingly common in homes by that period, the first CRT monitors for mainframe computing systems were monochrome, and in most cases, all that was up on screens was text.

The Apple I, unveiled in 1976, for instance, was the first computer from a factor that had this type of output that people could plug into a video monitor. It wasn’t long before inventors created RF modulators
that enabled people to connect devices such as the Apple II and game consoles to ordinary televisions.

By the late 1980s, color CRT monitors were capable of a 1024 x 768 resolution display.

The first VGA monitor, the IBM 8513, was released by IBM in 1987. VGA ports are 15 pin connectors from the computer to the monitor. This is still used today as a basic way to power the display. It is only capable of a 2048 by 1536 pixels which is sub par by todays standards.

The SVGA standard for computer displays was officially defined by VESA in 1989.

There are multiple technologies that have been used to implement liquid crystal displays (LCD). Throughout the 1990s, the primary use of LCD technology as computer monitors was in laptops where the lower power consumption, lighter weight, and smaller physical size of LCDs justified the higher price versus a CRT. Commonly, the same laptop would be offered with an assortment of display options at increasing price points: (active or passive) monochrome, passive color, or active matrix color (TFT). As volume and manufacturing capability have improved, the monochrome and passive color technologies were dropped from most product lines.

The first standalone LCDs appeared in the mid-1990s selling for high prices. As prices declined over a period of years they became more popular, and by 1997 were competing with CRT monitors.

Organic light-emitting diode (OLED) monitors provide higher contrast, better color reproduction and viewing angles than LCDs but they require more power when displaying documents with white or bright backgrounds and have a severe problem known as burn-in, just like CRTs. They are less common than LCD monitors and are often more expensive.

4K resolution is a recent trend that makes a much higher quality display. It has an aspect ratio of 16:9 and it has 4 times the number of pixels as 1080p. It outputs video at 3840×2160 pixels and ithis causes colors to be much more vibrant and detailed. This also causes it to be power hungry and not nearly as efficient as other displays. The cost also much more expensive because it is new technology.

Touch screen LCD monitors started to become cheaper, more affordable for the average consumer in 2017. Prices for 20 to 22-inch touch screen monitors dropped below $500.

Modern computer monitors are easily interchangeable with conventional television sets and vice versa. However, as many computer monitors do not include integrated speakers nor TV Tuners (such as digital television adapters), it may not be possible to use a computer monitor as a TV set without external components.