Timeline

1888Botanist Friedrich Reinitzer synthesises cholesteryl benzoate, in which he first observes the liquid-crystal state.
1889Physicist Otto Lehman publishes a paper on liquid-crystal behaviour, recognising that liquid crystals represent a new state of matter.
1922Georges Friedel describes the structure and properties of liquid crystals and classifies them into three types (nematics, smectics and cholesterics).
1929Vsevolod Freedericksz reports the use of a magnetic field to reorient an aligned layer of nematic liquid crystal. The electrical version of this switching effect is the basis of virtually all current LCDs.
1936The first patent claiming a potential display application of liquid crystals is granted to the Marconi Company.
1958UK theoretical physicist Sir Charles Frank brings together several existing ideas in a classic paper on the continuum theory of liquid crystals. His approach is the basis of the static modelling of LCDs and was later extended to include dynamics by Scottish mathematician Frank Leslie.
1968Researchers at the RCA company report the first useful display based on liquid crystals – the dynamic scattering LCD.
1971Physicists Martin Schadt and Wolfgang Helfrich invent the twisted nematic LCD.
1972Physicist Peter Raynes collaborates with chemists George Gray and Ken Harrison to invent E7 – a mixture of several biphenyl liquid crystals – which is stable over the full temperature range necessary for electronic displays. E7 proves to be the standard material used for many years.
1972Several companies are involved in producing LCDs and LCD watches. The Liquid Crystal Company manufactures the first twisted nematic LCD.
1973Sharp produces the first portable calculator, using an LCD screen. The calculator using the twisted nematic LCD followed shortly.
1979In the UK, physicists Cyril Hilsum and Tony Hughes make the first LCD picture elements switched by amorphous silicon thin-film transistors (TFTs), using TFTs made by physicists Peter LeComber and Walter Spear. This TFT/LC combination is used in most current display devices.
1979A Queen’s Award for Technological Achievement for LCDs is awarded jointly to the Solid State Physics and Devices Division of the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment, the University of Hull and BDH Chemicals.
1981Physicists Peter Raynes and Colin Waters at RSRE Malvern invent the supertwisted nematic (STN) LCD, used in the first generation of mobile phones, personal organisers, laptops and PC monitors.
1985Seiko-Epson unveils the first commercial LCD colour TV set, which has a 2 inch view.
1986Mass-production of monochrome VGA STN LCDs is under way.
1992Mass-production of 14 inch colour TFT LCDs is also under way.
1992A Queen’s Award for Technological Achievement for LCDs is conferred on the Optical and Display Science Division of the Defence Research Agency, Malvern, jointly with Merck Ltd, Poole.
2004Philips demonstrates a 20 inch three-dimensional LCD at the CeBIT technology conference in Hannover, Germany.
2007For the first time, LCDs surpass cathode-ray tubes in worldwide sales.
2008Around 70% of the 200 million TVs sold in 2008 are LCDs.


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