When Was the Flat-Screen TV Invented?

when was the flat screen tv invented?

Flat-screen televisions didn’t become super functional for a few years after their invention, despite some television companies taking them on. The resolution was relatively low, and the quality was not what you’d expect for a current-day TV, so when was the flat screen tv invented?

Two professors named Donald Bitzer and Gene Slottow and their graduate student, Robert Wilson, came up with the prototype invention for the first flat-screen in 1964. Although a considerable invention for its time, the first flat-screen TV created by these professors was more of a prototype.

The men invented it as a one-time product and had no intentions of selling it to the public.  

The First Flat-Screen TV

The first flat-screen TV invented by Donald, Gene, and Robert consisted of plasma technology. It was cheaper to utilize and was used to try to solve graphics problems with computer monitors at their university. The TV had a monochrome orange glow and had memory and bitmapped graphics. 

The first functional flat-screen TV to go on sale came years later, in 1997 by Fujitsu. This TV invention would pave the way for flat-screen TV sales and truly jump-start its popularity in the retail world.

What Company Made the First Flat-Screen TV?

In 1997, technology company Fujitsu released the first-ever flat-screen TV to the public, which had a 42-inch screen, and weighed 40 pounds. For the TV fans of the world, this invention was futuristic and exciting. Being only 3-inches thick, the TV was the thinnest on the market. 

The first flat-screen TV to be sold went for a whopping $15,000 due to its innovative design and specialty graphics. It brought on a true challenge to the regular CRT TVs of the time, which were bulky, heavy, and often had poor resolution. Fujitsu’s flat-screen TV was well-waited and appreciated. 

Flat-Screen Prices Come Down in 2005

Since the majority of people couldn’t afford to purchase the first flat-screen TV, the initial design was not a hit. It was not affordable for the regular American household. It wasn’t until 2005, when Toshiba released a 42-inch flat-screen TV for $4,500, that the flat-screen TV started to decrease in price. 

With more and more companies taking on the modern innovation of this TV design, more and more households could afford them. Soon after, in 2006, 80-inch flat-screen TVs came to the market, and Panasonic created the first 103-inch prototype flat-screen, which they would later sell on the market. 

With time, these companies drifted away from plasma technology and started to aim towards liquid crystal displays (LCD), which were much clearer, and could make TVs lighter and thinner. This design is the type of display utilized by most flat-screen TVs today, although some newer models use LED, QLED, and OLED displays instead. 

What Were TVs Called Before Flat-Screen TVs?

The style of TVs before the flat-screen was called Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) and were bulky, heavy objects with a small display. They started in black and white and later utilized plasma color to bring color TV to the household. 

Invented in the 1930s, these TVs were a fantastic invention to most families. They allowed people to “see films” at home, without leaving your sofa. It wasn’t until 1954 that the first color TV was invented. These TVs started at around 20-inches and hit 40-inches in the 1980s

In the 80s, these TVs started to be used for video gaming and computer monitors as well. In the 90s, Sony released the first HD CRT TV, which was widely more popular than the competing new flat-screen TVs on the market, which cost over ten times the price. 

2003 and 2004 were indeed the years when LCD flat-screen TVs started to gain popularity and out-sell the typical CRT. 

Did You Know? Interesting Fact About Television Invention

first flat screen tvs
Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

The invention of the TV, and especially the flat-screen, was one of the most advanced inventions of the 20th century. Let’s take a look at some interesting TV facts about the invention of TV as we know it today.

  • Did you know that the average person watches 10 hours of TV per day? 
  • The liquid crystals used to make LCD technology were accidentally discovered by a man named Friedrich Reinitzer in 1888. That’s 80 years before the first LCD TV! 
  • In 1995, the world’s largest LCD TV was 1,500 feet long and 90 feet high, and you could see it in the streets of Las Vegas. 
  • 2010 was the year of the world’s first 3D LED TV, released by Samsung. 
  • The CRT technology used to make the first TV was actually invented in 1897! 
  • TV companies first introduced TV to the public at the World’s Fair in 1939. They broadcast the president across the fairgrounds and used this as the first advertising for the TV products. 
  • Between 1950 and 1969, TV users in the US went up from 1 million to an astounding 44 million households. 

Interesting Facts About Flat-Screen TVs 

Now, let’s look at some flat-screen-specific fun facts. 

  • Did you know that LCD flat-screen TVs have over 6 million pixels?
  • Unlike the CRT TV, LCD flat-screens don’t experience burn-out. If you’ve ever owned a CRT, you know that keeping it turned on for an extended period can cause the image to “burn” into the screen. LCD technology doesn’t do this. 
  • Magnets cannot damage LCD flat-screen TVs. 
  • You can now buy curved flat-screen TV monitors.
  • The world’s thinnest flat-screen TV in 2021 is only 0.15 inches thick and is nicknamed the “wallpaper TV” due to its size. 

Custom TVs Arrive

If you’ve been thinking about investing in a new flat-screen, the future is now! Some of the specific customizations for flat-screen TVs include: 

  • Extra-thin (down to 0.15 inches) 
  • Curved monitor
  • Up to any size that you could imagine 
  • New technology such as OLED and QLED 
  • Smart TV technology 

Back in the 60s, when Donald and Gene invented their prototype, they had no idea they were developing the future of in-home viewing and TV.  

In the 21st century, streaming platforms have become extremely popular, causing more and more flat-screen TVs to offer smart capabilities, such as incorporating Roku, Firestick, and Google Chromecast. These services allow people to continue watching TV outside of the age of cable television. 

When Did Flat-Screen TVs Become Popular?

Flat-screen TVs first became popular in the late 1990s. Although they weren’t fancy HDTV models, they were still a massive hit on the market because they offered better picture quality than CRTs. They were also lighter and thinner, although not very affordable. 

flat screen on wall
Image by Kai Suckow from Pixabay

By the early 2000s, flat-screen TVs were extremely popular. 2003 and 2004 saw considerable rises in flat-screen TV sales. LCD and plasma TVs became available with more color and had bigger screens. Their cost went down as well. Sales skyrocketed.

Flat Screen Popularity in the 21st Century 

Even in the 2020s, people continue to jump into the flat-screen TV craze. Prices don’t seem to intimidate buyers when they compare the differences between their older models and the new modern-day versions. Some new features are available that buyers love, including: 

  • Curved monitor designs
  • Super-thin wall-mounted TVs 
  • 4K and 5K resolutions 

As more manufacturers discover new technology, the prices will continue to fall. You can purchase the 30-inch flat-screen plasma or LCD for around $800, and in some sales, as little as $300. On Black Friday sales, prices are probably even lower.

Some of the most popular flat-screen TV manufacturers today include: 

  • LG 
  • Samsung
  • Sony
  • Vizio
  • TCL
  • Hisense

When the first TV brands released the first flat-screen TV models, Samsung and LG were the last to lean into the trend and are now at the top of the market. How interesting is that? 

Final Thoughts 

Considering how rapidly technology changes year after year, seeing what new inventions develop in the next decade will be fascinating. In an age of transformation, anything is possible. 

Future TVs will be interactive, large, ultra-high-definition, and paper-thin. People will be able to attach them anywhere, including walls, ceilings, and showers. They might even have special features such as touch screen interaction and voice control. If you can imagine it, it’s possible that it could become a reality. 

The first flat-screen TV inventors would be amazed to see the technology achieved today and the variability of items available on the market. 


Bitzer & Wilson Inven the First Plasma Video Display. Retrieved from https://www.historyofinformation.com/detail.php?id=1384.

Fujitsu Announces World’s First Commercial 42-inch-diagonal Wide-Screen Color Plasma Display. Retrieved from https://pr.fujitsu.com/jp/news/1995/Aug/24-e.html.

LCD. Retrieved from https://techterms.com/definition/lcd.

Sony Operating Instructions. Retrieved from https://web.archive.org/web/20201028191204/https://www.docs.sony.com/release/PVM4300.pdf.

History of the plasma display panel. Retrieved from https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/1621302.

How do consumers feel about streaming services vs. cable? Retrieved from https://www.surveymonkey.com/curiosity/how-do-consumers-feel-about-streaming-services-vs-cable/.