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CRT flat panel screens - why don't they exist?

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
At one point in the early 2000s, IBM developed a technology to make CRT flat panel screens. These were to be cheaper than LCD and Plasma screens and would have had higher picture quality. I would like to know why this technology was ultimately not pursued. It would be sweet to one day have CRTflat panel screens. I'd probably pay more for a CRT flat panel than for a same sized LCD or LED.

Here is the story about IBM's research into CRT flat panels:


Does anyone know why this technology wasn't pursued?
post #2 of 24
Interesting, thanks for sharing. Too bad no one appeared to jump on it promptly as the years that have since passed by are long in terms of tech. The advancement of LED and new technologies such as OLED may have gotten too much of a head start for it to be pursued now. Still would be interesting to know why it wasn't pursued.
post #3 of 24
Nowadays manufacturing a TV only takes around 40 mins from start to finish , and use of plastic materials is prevalent.

Also, direct view CRTs with subpixels are not as good as CRT-s without subpixels (projectors), then CRT projector tech is stuck in 90's , too, projection screens, too.
post #4 of 24
Business isn't about reason. Or what's good for the consumer. It's about making money. So even if the industry made the wrong decision about the technology and picked the wrong horse (*cough*oled*cough*) they are still going that way because money was invested. And they have to get it back.

Where are kickstarter projects with new display technologies, I ask you?
post #5 of 24
Thread Starter 

I think Elix is probably right. I haven't been able to find any information on why CRT flat panel technology was not pursued, other than the 12 year old story I posted. If anyone has any more information on this or knows where it might be found, please let me know!

post #6 of 24
Not to be sarcastic, but why not ask IBM? They have a PR staff who may field such questions. I do suspect that it probably fizzled out in the light of plasma panels. After all, they do use phosphors, only the means of lighting them differ from CRT.
post #7 of 24

But the last generations of CRT were all "nearly flat" which had a very large radius on the curve. My 20" NF Samsung 1600x1200 monitor around 2004, which was as deep as wide, cost more than my 24" Dell IPS. LCD has become so cheap to make that we'll never have CRT again.
post #8 of 24
He is not asking "why weren't CRTs flat." He asked "why were no thin CRTs ever made?" And he laid the groundwork for this question with an article about a CRT technology IBM had been developing years ago. Thin, and flat, are not the same thing, and while there were "slim fit" CRTs from Samsung, and "super slim" tubes from LG, these are still not "thin"in the way an LCD or plasma are thin. This "thin" factor is the development that the article discussed, so the question remains, why were "thin" CRTs like this IBM tech never made?
post #9 of 24
"CRT flat panel screens"
post #10 of 24
The closest thing to flat-panel CRT was SED. Patent licensing issues played a major role in its demise:
post #11 of 24
Again, just as "flat" and "thin" are not the same thing, "flat" and "panel" are not the same thing, either. If you are quoting the OP's thread title to point out how one might get confused, I can see the use in it. Otherwise, honestly, does the term "flat panel" really mean anything? I don't think it does. Is there such a thing as a non-flat panel? If so I cannot say I have ever seen one. Every single time I have seen a person use the term "flat panel," what they have actually meant was, "a television or monitor screen that is thin." Just because the OP used the phrase "flat panel" equating it with "thin" does not mean the two terms are equal. Flat is flat, and, well, as lespurgeon pointed out, many, many CRTs have been made which were flat.
post #12 of 24
Flat, curved, heavy, light, thick, thin, slim, not-so-slim, etc...... it's not worth arguing over semantics.

The question at hand is why IBM or another manufacturer didn't follow up 12 years ago.
post #13 of 24
It isn't worth arguing over it, no, but then it isn't worth posting if all you have to say is that the last generation of CRT was "nearly flat," either. That falls under the no **** Sherlock file and doesn't add anything we don't already know.

Could be many reasons it wasn't pursued. Honestly, just seeing how the "slim" and "super slim" CRTs perform at much deeper than 2cm thickness (terrible, where uniformity is concerned), I couldn't imagine how these tubes described in the article would even function. At least, not as a CRT. Nor with any means of deflection as we know it on established CRTs. For all I know the article writer may have been describing plasma screens, confusingly naming it a CRT for its similar technology (sealed spaces, phosphors that glow, etc.). Even if it is in fact a CRT that is being described here, it's also very possible they just couldn't make it work to the kind of quality that a production would require.
post #14 of 24
Because the screen would have to be transparent and maintain a vacuum. This would require approximately 2 inch thick glass at current technology for a 50 inch panel never mind the back side. This is not feasible period. At this time SED was in pre production with Kodak and that was much more feasible and still failed to come to market. Japan did have a analog thin CRT in the early 1990's (2 inches deep) but failed due to deflection issues/distortion.
post #15 of 24
Originally Posted by LiquidSnake View Post

... if it is in fact a CRT that is being described here, it's also very possible they just couldn't make it work to the kind of quality that a production would require.

That could possibly be all that needed to be said. tongue.gif
post #16 of 24
Just quoting the OP to back up your post #8, 'Snake.

That SED article was interesting and makes more sense IMO.
post #17 of 24
Thread Starter 
I found this additional information. The original article in question is not referring to another technology like SED or Plasma.

Zeus thin CRT display[edit]
In the late 1990s and early 2000s Philips Research Laboratories experimented with a type of thin CRT known as the Zeus display which contained CRT-like functionality in a flat panel display.[30][31][32][33][34] The devices were demonstrated but never marketed.

Source: "Cathode Ray Tube," Wikipedia.

Apparently, they were able to get the crt display down to around 1cm for any display size.
Edited by PatrickM84 - 12/16/13 at 12:41pm
post #18 of 24
The things to keep in mind are:
1) 20 years ago
2) experimented
3) demonstrated
4) never marketed

None of the marketing, financial and technological reasons/obstacles have changed. Keep trying. biggrin.gif
post #19 of 24
Thread Starter 

Please read the sources I linked to, not just the brief on the wikipedia article. The sources indicate that the technological obstacles had been addressed late 1990s early 2000s. Unless there is some other technological reasons which haven't been mentioned in this thread. 


SO that leaves only the fact that they were never marketed. Which could come down to something as simple as business betting on the wrong horse.

post #20 of 24
"The CRT has served us well for many many years — since the early 1930s into the golden age of television and the advent of color in the 60s," said LG's Taylor. "The longevity of that technology is probably second to none in our industry, but time marches on, and flat panels have really captured the enthusiasm of the American public."

post #21 of 24
Thread Starter 


An interesting article, but this still does not provide a logical reason for abandoning crt tech, especially considering that crt flat panels could have been produced more cheaply and would have performed better than LCDs.


 Industry has to find a way to get people to buy more stuff. What better way to do that then introducing an entirely new technology. Also, people have a fascination with new tech even when it offers no real advantages over existing tech. Both of these factors probably played into the demise of crt.

post #22 of 24
Originally Posted by PatrickM84 View Post

... crt flat panels could have been produced more cheaply and would have performed better than LCDs.
I guess we'll never know. wink.gif
post #23 of 24
The first article here reads way too much like it could be referring to SED, FED, plasma or some such in order to be anything but suspect as to the writer not knowing what the hell he is talking about. As for Zeus, you can search all you like, there is not even a photo of it anywhere documented in the public. Believe me, you're not the first person to have noticed it. So it easily could have been a similar effort (SED, FED, plasma), one that knowledge of such only made its way to us in very incomplete and potentially incorrect descriptions. You have to imagine a time when ANY television was "a boob tube," to anybody and everybody. New technology was instantly described in these terms, just because it was the only thing familiar and recognizable. Ever heard of a horseless carriage? The likelihood of this sort of human error getting in the way of this information looms large and you would be wise to take notice.

If you were serious about an in depth answer, with what little information exists in the wild, you would do best to go to the source: IBM and Philips. ******** your way into a telephone interview as a technology blog journalist or something and report back.
post #24 of 24
Thread Starter 
There are lots of technical and research articles that I still haven't read. Some of them are $30+ for one article...

Apparently there is something called a hopping electron cathode (HEC) which was used in the Zeus display

More than one technical article I've read thus far has referred to the Zeus display as a type of crt. Seems unlikely that articles published in research/technical journals would make the mistake of using incorrect terminology. I still have more reading to do. Eventually I may call IBM and/or Philips, that's not a bad idea.
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