50th Anniversary of the LCD
It may be difficult to imagine, but the first liquid-crystal display was revealed to the public only 50 years ago. Liquid crystals themselves were discovered in Austria in the 1880s, but approximately 80 years went by before someone sandwiched the LC material between two pieces of glass and applied voltage to create a display of a glowing electronic numeral, as shown below (Fig. 1).
Fig. 1: This early LCD (with inventor George Heilmeier) may look primitive, but it was a revelation back in the 1960s.
George Heilmeier and associates at RCA unveiled that first LCD back in 1968. They knew they were onto something big, but could anyone have dreamed that 40 years later, more than 100 million LCD-based televisions would ship in one year? (See our Honors and Awards profiles in this issue for more about the sales history for LCDs.) Or that LCDs would form the basis of products ranging from calculators to watches to oven timers to smartphones to computers to televisions? Even now, with OLEDs and e-paper cutting into LCD’s dominance a bit, any one of us probably has at least a dozen and possibly a hundred LCD-based devices in our home. SID has flourished along with the LCD – our society, founded in 1962 back when the cathode ray tube (CRT) was the dominant display technology, has been greatly shaped by the ascendance of liquid-crystal displays.
To honor the LCD and those who made it possible, the Society for Information Display is holding a 50th anniversary LCD Celebration on Tuesday, May 22, at Display Week in Los Angeles. The celebration will feature a roster of LCD luminaries who have played pivotal roles in this technology. According to Erica Montbach of Kent Displays, spokesperson for the event along with Linghui Rao of Microsoft, the presenters will talk about how the industry got to where it is today and describe some of the key innovations made along the way. The speakers and topics are:
• Martin Schadt, MS High-Tech Consulting: “From Dynamic Scattering to Field-Effect Liquid-Crystal Displays”
• Fang-Chen Luo, Adviser for AU Optronics and co-inventor (with Peter Brody) of the active-matrix LCD: “Development of TFT LCDs”
• Kouji Suzuki, former CTO of Toshiba Corp.: “Development of a-Si TFT-LCD and Low temperature p-Si TFT-LCD”
• Kenji Okamoto: “Technical Innovation of Wide-Viewing-Angle LCD”
• Injae Chung, former CTO of LG Display: “LG Display Opened New Era of Large-Sized LCDs with State-of-the-Art Technologies”
• Jun Souk, former CTO of Samsung Display: “The First 40-in. LCD TV Prototype in 2001: The Initiation of Large-Sized LCD TVs”
• Mark Verrall, senior VP, research & development at Merck: “The (R)evolution of Liquid Crystals”
• Terry Scheffer, LCD consultant and co-inventor of super-twisted-nematic liquid crystals: “The STN Story”
• J. William Doane, co-founder and senior advisor to Kent Displays, Inc., and co-inventor of polymer-dispersed liquid-crystal systems: “PDLCs: Development and Display Applications”
A short video about the LCD celebration can be seen on the Display Week YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/watch?v=YZZ-GvX4kCE. Please join us in Los Angeles this May for this very special event. •