Plasma Televisions – Are They Right For You?

The very first prototype for the plasma display monitor—also commonly referred to as a plasma display panel—took place in the 60s. A plasma display monitor incorporates certain technological principles in order to qualify as a “plasma monitor/panel.” The science behind the screen will be talked about more later, but even though the inventors of the plasma monitor did not emerge until the 60s, it is important to note the work of KalmanTihani. Tihani worked as a Hungarian engineer, and in the year 1936 he came up with the very concept of the “plasma television.” He was the first being to conceive of the flat panel display, and without his initial research and imagination we may not have the plasma television we do today.

The first practical application for the brilliant idea sprung up in the minds of two professors, Gene Slottow and Donald Bitzer, (these two men had their names on the plasma display patent) and a graduate student named Robert Willson. As can be imagined these individuals came together at a university, specifically the University of Illinois, and this was in the year 1964.

During this time period televisions were utilized as computer monitors for the University’s in-house computer network. These current TVs were cathode-ray tube-based television sets, and they were impractical for use as computer monitors because they were designed so that they needed to be refreshed continuously. This was not a problem for videos or other broadcasts, but it was far from ideal when used to display computer graphics. This early computer system at the university is now known as the PLATO computer system. PLATO stands for Programming Logic for Automatic Teaching Operations and it was one of the very first computer assisted instruction systems. Donald Bitzer initiated the project to find a better alternative to the current monitors and he began researching plasma displays. It wasn’t long before he enlisted the assistance of Wilson and Slottow. By the time July of 64 rolled around the trio had successfully built the very first plasma display panel. Unlike our current panels which use millions of cells, this first prototype had only one single cell.

This first television could not really be effective until several years later, after digital technology moved forward and other new breakthroughs were made. There was also another temporary drawback for the plasma television. Although television broadcast companies did seriously ponder the possibility of replacing the old and less practical cathode-ray monitors with plasma ones, they did not go forward with the idea until later. This was largely due liquid crystal displays or LCDs which could be used to make flat screen televisions. Because another alternative had presented itself, along with the cost implications what went along with the plasma TV, the concept was shelved for a later time. Until then plasmas were used in upper class lobbies and other places due to its larger screen.

The Panaplex display, or the gas-discharge or gas-plasma displayed as it was also known as, was invented during the 70s through Burroughs Corporation. This corporation primarily made computers and adding machines. The next big development for the plasma television occurred in 1983 when a 48- cm monochrome display was brought unto the scene by IBM, and their action lead to the closing of the world’s largest plasma plant. Advancements and new plasma televisions continued to be made on through the 90s. It is no surprise that this trend has continued into the turn of the 21st century as our technology becomes increasingly smarter, more independent, and more advanced.