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Technical Journal No.4 (April 2003)
Thirty Years of Liquid Crystal Display

Zempei Tani

This year, 2003, marks an important milestone in the history of LCDs-it has been 30 years since Sharp first began mass production of LCDs. This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the start of television broadcasts in Japan, and the 50th year since Sharp introduced TV sets to the market, and hence holds deep significance for Sharp Corporation as a company.
The fact that the history of the LCD industry began with their use as displays in electronic calculators is well known. Liquid crystal substances themselves were discovered years ago in the 19th century. A long period followed in which they were not used industrially, but were treated only as the subject of academic research.
In 1968, Radio Corporation of America (RCA) announced a prototype LCD, but it was Sharp that plunged into research and first commercialized the LCD in 1973 as the ideal display for electronic calculators, which were then the focus of fierce competition to develop models with thinner profiles, more compact size, and lower power consumption. The first LCD was a monochrome device, a simple alphanumeric display consisting only of segment electrodes. Users subsequently began to demand thinner, more compact electronic calculators, and thinner, smaller LCDs with lower costs have advanced considerably since then.

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