Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Check Out That Slow Mo'?It's a Gas!

PostedJanuary 25, 2004

Download File (mp3)

You might be surprised that plasma screens are now forty years old.  In 1964 engineers at the University of Illinois came up with the breakthrough idea while killing time waiting for a ride.  They wanted a screen with high-resolution and touch sensitivity—not for entertainment, but for their pioneering computer-based teaching program.  Next day, the engineers created the first tiny glass pixel filled with neon gas and turned it blue using electric current.  Millions of similar pixels now work in harmony to uniquely produce high-definition images on a very large screen you can hang from your wall.  One of the inventors, Donald Bitzer, says he originally pooh-poohed the suggestion that plasma was the future of television.  He was focused on education.  But now he owns an Emmy Award for the accomplishment.  With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, WTOP Radio.