LCD



The L.C.D. watch - one of two competing wristwatch technologies from the early 1970's based on Liquid Crystal Displays.


There were parallel R&D projects by various inventors in order to find an optimal solution for a digital wristwatch display. The first marketable/reliable LCD wristwatch prototypes were team efforts conducted by George Heilmeier at RCA based on dynamic scattering displays (first on picture below - DSM Dynamic Scattering Mode). A team of researchers left RCA to form Optel Corporation with the key player Louis Zanoni (an experimenter and designer who founded the well known Zantech company), Nunzio Luce, George Graham, Joel Goldmacher and also an organic chemist Lucian Barton (aka Lucjan Bartoszewicz born in Poland). These watch displays were however very problematic and finally lost the race for the first digital watch as the LED display was used in the first marketed wristwatch (center on picture below).

 

 

With the introduction of the Pulsar P1 the run for the first digital watch was lost to the LED however following improvements in the LCD technology finally made it possible to market in 1972/73 a "small" quantity of dynamic scattering display watches by Optel that were set using a stem/crown just like in mechanical watches.

 

 

These were still not very power efficient thus further improvements led to creating the LCD wristwatch based on the twisted nematic field effect display in approx. 1971/72 by James Fergason which is common today (third on top picture). Optel soon converted to these reliable black-on-white displays made by Fergason's company Ilixco.

Energy efficient LCD's slowly pushed the power-hungry LED out of the field and made it completely obsolete at the end of the 1970's. LCD technology became a big part of our life with such displays present everywhere in our mobile phones, computer and TV displays and disposable 1$ gadgets and wristwatches. LED technology (
including OrganicLED OLED) is still alive but it's very unlikely that it will again regain dominance even close to the 1970's rage.

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