Who invented the first Computer Monitor? (Invention Timeline Explained)

It’s pretty challenging to imagine a world without computers. With today’s digital world so focused on computers of all sizes and shapes, it’s interesting to think about how certain inventions got their start. In the case of computers, where did the computer monitor get its start? Without an ability to visually showcase the coding and programming of computers, the world would be a very different place.

There’s a history to everything, and the same thing can be said about computer monitors. In this quick dive we look into the first computer monitor, its inception, and how it’s evolved over the years.

Who invented the first computer monitor?

The distinction of the first computer monitor goes to Karl Ferdinand Braun, a German physicist. He did so by introducing a fluorescent screen to the CRT (the cathode ray tube). The science of the first computer monitor involves the electrons emitting light when they hit the screen.

The computer monitor’s key contributors (and evolution)

  • Karl Ferdinand Braun
    Inventor of the first computer monitor

    Renowned German physicist Karl Ferdinand Braun invented the first computer monitor. It was invented by adding a fluorescent screen to a CRT. It’s the reason why the CRT monitors got its name, but at this point it could only show vectors.

  • Boris Rosing
    Improved on the CRT

    A Russian scientist, Boris Rosing used a mirror-drum scanning system with the CRT. He was able to transmit geometrical patterns onto the screen as a result.

  • Sperry Rand Corporation
    The Uniscope 300 machine

    The Sperry Rand Corporation developed the Uniscope 300 machine, which had a built-in CRT display. It’s undoubtedly a step forward and an evolution of the first computer monitor.

  • Charles P. Thacker
    The Xerox Alto

    Considered the first modern computer monitor, Charles Thacker designed the Xerox Alto, which came with the monitor. It was a CRT with a monochrome display.

  • Apple
    The release of the Apple II by Apple

    The Apple II was released with a colored CRT display for the first time.

When was the first computer monitor invented?

The first computer monitor was invented by Karl Ferdinand Braun in 1897. Considering the progress of computers, it’s crazy to think that the very first monitor best paired with computers was made at the tail end of the 19th century.

A brief history of computer monitors

Everyone already knows what computer monitors are like these days, but when you go all the way back to the 1890s, it’s hard to really think about anything connected to computers. The very first computer monitor was invented in 1897 by Karl Ferdinand Braun. The first computer monitor was a cathode ray tube connected to a fluorescent screen. It’s not the kind of thing where you can expect text and graphics display. At most, it emitted light where the electrons hit, and there would be much more development before it could start to showcase more advanced graphics and displays.

In 1907, Russian scientist Boris Rosing used a mirror-drum scanning system at the camera end of the CRT to transmit geometrical patterns on the screen. Some might say progress was slow, but consider that this level of technology was fantastic in the early 1900s.

It would take plenty of time and development for the design of the first computer monitor to be paired alongside a computer. The Xerox Alto was released in 1973, developed by Charles Thacker. The fact that it had a built-in CRT display showcases the direction of the first computer monitor, and how it grew over the years. The Xerox Alto’s monitor is often considered the first true computer monitor.

Eventually, Apple would complete the circle by releasing the Apple II, which came with a colored CRT display for the first time. Things would quickly balloon after that, and the development of various other computer monitors would lead to the modern age of monitors.

The computer monitor timeline

  1. 1897
    The invention of the first computer monitor

    Karl Ferdinand Braun creates what is widely considered to be the very first computer monitor. It’s a primitive CRT that is unable to display advanced graphics and text — however, consider that it was 1897. It’s an absolutely amazing invention for the time.

  2. 1907
    Following in the footsteps

    Boris Rosing managed to display geometrical patterns in the CRT screen. He did this with a mirror-drum scanning system.

  3. 1973
    Release of the Xerox Alto

    The reason why the release of the Xerox Alto is a milestone for computer monitors is that it’s often considered the first modern computer monitor. It was a computer monitor in every sense of the word, but had a monochrome display.

  4. 1977
    Release of the Apple II

    Leave it to Apple to be a trailblazer! Their release of the Apple II came with a computer monitor with a color display for the first time.

Where was the first computer monitor invented?

The first computer monitor was invented in Germany. Considering the time period (the 1890s), it took plenty of effort and innovation to get the job done.

The importance of the first computer monitor

  • The origin of the modern computer monitor

    Without the creation of the first computer monitor, it’s hard to imagine what things would be like today. It was due to the innovation of renowned inventors that technology has advanced so far.

  • The modern rendition is still a fantastic device

    While the CRT monitor has long been outpaced by many other monitors, many people still prefer the CRT for older films and retro gaming. It’s a far more crisp screen considering its age.

  • Computer tech goes hand in hand with progress

    The evolution of tech such as the computer monitor is tied closely to modern technology as a whole.

  • A constantly evolving platform

    When you see computer monitors today, you’ll realize that it hasn’t stopped evolving. People are always looking to find new ways to evolve computer monitors.

The computer monitor by the numbers

  • 2017The year when touch screen LCD monitors started to experience a drop in price — making it that much more accessible to the average consumer.
  • 1024 x 768Color CRT monitors were developed to be capable of the 1024 x 768 display in the late 1980s.
  • 1965Touch screen tech was developed in 1965, which started the trend of computer monitors with touch screens. The smartphones we know and love today are the end products.
  • 2006The year the first entirely touch-based and interface-free computer monitor was introduced.

Five facts about the computer monitor

  • The parts of a modern computer monitor

    Put simply, the parts of a modern computer monitor include the circuitry, the power supply, the buttons, and the casing.

  • Development of the LED display

    Did you know that the LED display was invented around 1977? However, it was still relatively new technology, and many improvements had to be made. It took 30 years after the fact before LED computer screens became common.

  • The trouble with magnets

    The magnetic field is something that could potentially ruin a CRT computer monitor. Thankfully, modern iterations are no longer affected by magnetic fields.

  • Not really bad for the eyes

    The surprising thing about computer monitors is that it isn’t necessarily a bad thing for the eyes. It doesn’t so much damage the eyes as it does strain and tire them out. Fortunately, you won’t suffer any permanent eye damage using computers all day!

  • Innovation with no limits

    It’s a fact that computer monitors are constantly evolving. There’s always something brand new for people to enjoy, and it’s a trend that won’t die out anytime soon.

FAQ about the computer monitor

  • What’s the best type of computer monitor?

    Surprisingly, there’s no definitive answer to this question. The best type of computer monitor really depends on what you want out of it. For example, there are some games that work best with specific monitors, which is why some old school gamers go for that. The best computer monitor depends on you.

  • How long does a computer monitor usually last?

    The number of hours the typical computer monitor can handle is roughly between 30,000 to 60,000 hours of continuous use. That means you can get around 10 to 20 years of use for your computer monitor if you keep it on for eight hours a day.

  • How can I tell when I need a new computer monitor?

    Anything that’s out of the ordinary will usually tell you when there’s something wrong. Dim images, flickering, and anything else out of the ordinary are good indicators. That said, you could still potentially have the monitor repaired and get more use out of them!

  • What are some of the best computer monitor brands today?

    You’re spoiled for choice when it comes to computer monitors! You can choose Acer, ASUS, Gigabyte, Dell, Samsung, HP, and so much more. The sky’s the limit when it comes to quality computer monitors you and your family can enjoy.

Leave a Comment