Technology used in old pc monitors: Personal computers have come a long way since the early days. The monitors that were used with old PCs look practically ancient compared to the sleek, high-resolution displays we have today. But everything new was once old, and even primitive monitor technology represented major advancements at the time. Let’s take a nostalgic walk down memory lane and explore the display tech used in old PC monitors over the years.
Massive, Bulky CRT Monitors – Technology used in old pc monitors
In the early days of personal computing, from the 1970s through the mid 1990s, most PC monitors used cathode ray tube (CRT) technology. This was the same technology used in old chunky television sets.
CRT monitors contained large electron guns and deflection yokes that steered beams of electrons across the screen to light up phosphors and produce images. They required a lot of power and took up a huge amount of desk space. The screens were deep and bulky, which resulted in the classic massive desktop computer setups we remember from the 80s and 90s.
Resolution on these primitive CRT monitors was limited, often topping out at 800×600 pixels for more advanced models. Most were not capable of displaying the high color depths we enjoy today either.
The Dawn of LCD Displays
Liquid crystal display (LCD) technology brought major improvements in visual quality, form factor, and energy efficiency. LCD monitors use electric current to precisely align liquid crystal molecules that act as tiny transmissive light shutters.
The first desktop LCD monitors emerged in the mid-1990s and started to become popular as prices came down in the early 2000s. Early LCD monitors were limited to resolutions like 1024×768 or 1280×1024 pixels. They could display 16-bit and 24-bit color depths, bringing millions of colors to the desktop for the first time.
These sleek displays were much lighter and thinner than CRTs. This made it possible to adjust them to ergonomic viewing positions with adjustable arms for the first time. LCD technology brought tighter pixel spacing, inching toward the clear, sharp image quality we enjoy today.
Enter LED Backlighting
Traditional compact fluorescent tubes were used as backlights in early LCD monitors. In the late 2000s, light emitting diodes (LEDs) started to replace fluorescent backlights, allowing for local dimming control and even thinner display panels.
The first LED-backlit LCD monitors provided improved brightness and contrast compared to cold cathode fluorescent backlighting. This enhanced image quality, with deep blacks and vivid colors. LED backlights also used less power and didn’t contain hazardous mercury like traditional fluorescent bulbs.
HDTV Resolutions Become the Norm
At the turn of the 21st century, LCD monitors moved beyond common resolutions like 1280×1024 and started supporting high-definition (HD) 16:9 widescreen aspects ratios.
Early HD resolutions of 1280×720 and 1920×1080 became increasingly popular on PC displays as HDTV grew in popularity. These higher resolutions up to 1080p finally allowed PC monitors to catch up to modern televisions.
This shift to 16:9 1080p displays brought a massive boost in clarity for movies, games, photos, and general productivity. Icons and text were sharper than ever thanks to the tighter pixel density.
Panel Types for Displaying Progress
IPS and VA – Two important LCD panel technologies started appearing in the late 2000s: in-plane switching (IPS) and vertical alignment (VA).
IPS panels offered wider 178-degree viewing angles compared to cheaper TN panels. VA panels provided superior contrast ratios with deep blacks. These expanding panel technologies brought more options for image quality and viewing experience.
4K UHD – In the early 2010s, 4K ultra HD (UHD) 3840×2160 computer monitors started to hit the market. This new level of resolution offered yet another massive boost in clarity and workspace. Text is perfectly sharp and photos gain more realism than ever with these extra pixels.
Curve and Ultrawide – Display manufacturers also started experimenting with curved screens and 21:9 ultrawide resolutions. These innovations provided more immersive experiences for movies and games.
The Future is Bright and Connected
Display technology has come an incredibly long way since the early bulky CRT monitors used with some of the first personal computers. Every advancement has brought significantly improved visuals.
Even gorgeous high-resolution OLED and quantum dot displays would have been unthinkable back in the days of pixelated 800×600 CRT screens. We can only imagine where the future of display technology will take us. One thing is certain: the journey of progress will continue as long as human creativity and innovation remain unbounded.