Information Display Retrospective

Information Display Retrospective

Looking Back Over 50-Plus Years of Information Display

by Jenny Donelan

If you have ever wondered about the origins of Information Display magazine, you are not alone.  When ID executive editor Steve Atwood came up with the idea to do a magazine retrospective, it seemed like it would be a straightforward matter to chronicle the complete history of Information Display.  But it was harder than we expected.  As it turns out, no one person set out with the intention of preserving a complete history when the magazine began and that history has proved difficult to unravel.  There were years when the magazine came out more or less regularly and years when publishers, formats, and editorial staffs changed.  There were even a couple of years (1971 and 1972) when the publishing rights to the magazine itself were under dispute.  The Society for Information Display moved its headquarters several times, as did the editorial offices.  As a result, there is no single complete repository of back issues.

Throughout the half-century of ID’s existence, its editors and publishers were doubtless more concerned about getting the next issue out on time than in preserving a record for posterity.  (We, the editors of today, know from experience that this must be true.)  But even though magazines are ephemera, some, including ID, contain invaluable records.  Our searches through past issues have been filled with discovery – from the mundane (business attire in the early 1960s) to the awesome (articles on early plasma, LCD, and active-matrix technology).  It’s exciting to discover the seeds of a technology that went on to flourish and also to see that the scientists, and the editors who chose to publish their results so many years ago, were on track.

We will continue to find new pieces of history.  One aspect of the retrospective process that has been particularly satisfying is the scanning of back issues prior to 2005, the date that ID began to be posted in digital format on the Web (the scanning was another idea from Steve Atwood).  This is an ongoing process and issues are slowly being scanned and posted to the archives at  They date from 1965 to the early 1990s to right now and are being added to every couple of weeks.  Take a look.  It’s a lot of fun.  You might even recognize some names.

In the Beginning

ID was founded in 1964, 2 years after the Society for Information Display was established.  There were only two issues that year, published in October and November/December.  At that time, the Society already had a newsletter, which Information Display replaced.  “Those first issues featured meetings, people, and activities.  “It was a very informal publication,” says Lawrence Tannas, an early member of SID and founder of Tannas Electric Displays.

Ambitions for ID were initially modest – there was no master plan for its future role.  Today, we do have a mission statement, developed several years ago by the current editorial staff.  “As the official magazine of the Society for Information Display (SID), Information Display serves the display industry through unbiased and objective reporting on the business and technologies related to displays.  By serving the display industry, ID also serves the membership of the SID.”

Even though the mission statement is recent, it seems clear that the ID magazine of the ’60s and onwards did basically meet the goals that statement describes.  Below is a timeline that shows the evolution of the publication and how it reflected that of the Society for Information Display and the display industry itself.



Magazine History Display Industry History & ID Content


  1962:  The Society for Information Display is founded at UCLA and publishes a SID newsletter.
  1963:  SID publishes the Journal of the Society for Information Display, a peer-reviewed technical journal.


The first issue of Information Display appears in October 1964, replacing the SID newsletter.  There is only one more issue this year, November/December, which features three articles: “The JPL Space Flight Operations Facility Display and Control System” by Albert S. Goldstein, “1964 Voice-Response and Visual Display Techniques for On-Line Information Handling Systems” by Emik A. Avakian and Walter F. Jenison, and “Display Requirements of the Integrated Management Information System” by Donald L. Dittberner and Peter James. The plasma display is invented at University of Illinois.  Pioneering LC developments and active-matrix addressing are also going on at RCA.


ID begins to publish six issues a year (its current format) and continues that way for more than a decade.
The editors and publishers are Martin H. Waldman and Hal Spector.  The publishing company is Informa-
tion Display Publications, located in Beverly Hills, California.  This issue features a preview of the sixth SID Symposium and articles including “Energy Transfer from CRT to Photosensitive Media” by Leo Beiser.  Note that the tagline under the masthead is “ Journal of the Society for Information Display” even though a separate journal exists.
   Volume 2, Number 5, September/October 1965
This advertisement from the 1965 September/October issue features a state-of-the-art display and, presumably, state-of-the-art business attire.  Note the emphasis on accessing stored computer records instantly.


1971:  This year marks the start of a 2-year legal battle between the publisher of the magazine and the Society over who had authorization to publish the magazine.  According to former SID historian and founding SID member Bob Knepper, the issue below was one of several that were published without the permission of the Society.  Note that the tagline is now: “The Journal of Data Display Technology.”

1970:  Twisted-nematic LC is developed.
1971:  AC PDP 512 × 512 graphic terminal developed at Owens-Illinois.


1972:  After this issue is published, and as a result of the aforementioned legal battle, Information Display is replaced by a similar magazine called the SID Journal for a period of about 2 years, from May/June of 1972 to September/October of 1974.
   Volume 9, Number 2, March/April 1972
1972:  Cathode-ray tubes (CRTs) are a hot commodity in 1972.  This ad, from the Special Purpose Tube Company of Van Nuys, California, is one of many for CRTs appearing in the May/June 1972 issue.

1974:  First AMCLD prototype is developed at Westinghouse.


1975:  Information Display begins to be published by SID out of its headquarters in Los Angeles.  The publisher is Erwin Ulbrich (then SID Vice-President).  Tom Curran is the publications chair.  During this time, the magazine transitions from a bi-monthly to a more or less quarterly format.  There are only two issues this year, June and September, and only one in 1976, in April.
1977:  There are only three issues this year, and they are basically short newsletters.
1978:  This year, Ted Lucas becomes the editor, and 10–12 issues are mailed out.
1979:  a-Si TFTs are developed at the University of Dundee, Scotland.


1985:  Publishing is turned over to a company called MetaData, based in New York City.  Ted Lucas is an Editorial Consultant. 1983:  The first commercial “pocket” LC TV, based on poly-Si, is sold by Seiko-Epson.


Palisades Institute for Research Services (now Palisades Convention Management) becomes publisher.  Ken Werner is executive editor.  Jay Morreale joins the magazine.  Twenty-eight years later, he (below) is still with the magazine as editor-in-chief.
Low-voltage OLEDs are invented at Kodak.


The November 1988 issue features articles on workstations.  The CRT is still the mainstay of the display world.
A 21-in. color plasma display panel is introduced by Fujitsu.
This image is from a November 1988 article simply titled “Displays for Workstations” by Hugh Masterson.


1993:  The cover of the December 1993 issue sports a puzzling piece of conceptual art.  It’s a Technology Roundup issue and features stories on emissive technology and LCDs.  Ken Werner’s look at “Emissive Flat-Panel Display” highlights the following topics: “Fujitsu brought the first color plasma TV set to market, LEDs earned millions, and a full-color EL display earned respect.”  The issue also includes these two articles: “CRT-Based Data Display Technology:  If CRTs are such a mature technology, why are they changing so quickly?” by Richard Trueman and “Liquid-Crystal Displays: The LCD is now challenging the CRT as the world’s largest selling display – and will soon surpass it” by John L. West.  The times are changing.
1994:  Plasmaco, co-founded by plasma visionary and SID past-president Larry Weber, demonstrates a 21-in. color plasma display at Display Week in San Jose. Panasonic Corporation then forms a joint development project with Plasmaco, which leads in 1996 to the purchase by Panasonic of Plasmaco, its color AC technology, and its American factory.


1996:  Ted Lucas retires as Information Display's West Coast Advertising Representative at the age of 82.
1999:  Larry Weber, a new member of the ID Editorial Board, poses next to one of the 60-in. plasma displays he helped develop for SID 1999 and the 1999 Japan Electronics Show.  (The photo below is from a May 2009 article in ID on the history of Plasmaco.  Photo courtesy Will Faller.)
1995:  Hitachi introduces an IPS TFT-LCD.
The U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology announces the launch of its Video Processing and Display Meaurement laboratories, setting the stage for what is to become the seminal work in display measurement standards – the International Display Measurements Standard (IDMS) – now sponsored by SID.
During this timeframe, laptop PCs based on AMLCDs become affordable, which spearheads the subsequent domination of LCDs.
1998:  The phosphorescent OLED is invented at Princeton and USC.
1999:  Pioneer introduces the first commercial OLED panel.


2004:  By this time, ID has more or less acquired its current logo.  CRTs aren’t mentioned.  Topics in the January 2004 issue include LCD overdriving and AMOLEDs, with this feature by Koichi Miwa and Atsushi Tanaka: ”Driving AMOLEDs with Amorphous-Silicon Backplanes:  It had been believed that current-hungry OLEDs required expensive poly-Si TFTs, but now it seems that a-Si TFTs can do the job – and that means inexpensive AMOLEDs for TV sets are possible.”
2005:  ID Magazine’s digitized pages begin to be posted on Information Display’s Web site.
2001:  Samsung introduces a 40-in. TFT-LCD TV.
2003:  The first color AMOLED product ships in cameras from Kodak and Sanyo.
2004:  The article below on AMOLEDs from the January 2004 issue features a 20-in. OLED display from IDTech, driven with super-amorphous-silicon TFTs.


The June 2006 issue focuses on flexible displays and paper, with an article titled “Designing e-Books that Will Be Comfortable to Use” by Mark T. Johnson and Guofu Zhou.  Its authors say: “Although documents can be read on computer screens, paper is still preferred.  When will there be an e-Book that will be comfortable to read for hours at a time?”
In January of this year, Stephen Atwood, our current executive editor, takes the reins at Information Display and Allan Kmetz joins the Editorial Advisory Board as article reviewer.
This early eReader is pictured in the June 2006 issue.


2008:  The cover of the January 2008 issue reads – Has E-Paper Finally Arrived?
2007:  The Amazon Kindle, though not the first commercially available eReader, is the most popular, selling out 4 hours after being introduced.
2008:  Large-area AMOLED TV panels are demonstrated by Samsung and LG Display. Below is a 31-in. 1920 × 1080-pixel display from Samsung SDI that uses the company’s super microcavity bottom-emission technology.


Wiley takes on publishing responsibilities for Information Display.  Palisades Convention Management and SID continue to provide editorial services.  


ID Magazine turns 50. Samsung and LG announce that they will end production of plasma TVs this year, effectively ending the era of plasma displays.


The best is yet to come!  


Information Display is indebted to the following individuals and organizations who helped with the preparation of this timeline:  Phil Heyman, Allan Kmetz, Bob Knepper, Larry Tannas, and Erv Ulbricht (who created the 50-Year SID History on which some of this timeline is based).  •