5 Different Types of Monitors: CRT, OLED, LED, and Plasma

Computer and TV monitors help display the information processed by the device’s processors. They process different types of videos, audio, and graphics. The information is then displayed on the screen. The oldest monitors were the CRTs. They used cathode ray tubes to power the monitor for display.

These types of computer monitors are bulky and difficult to move around. Since the 1970s, monitors have undergone a huge transformation. From CRTs, the world advanced to LCD. Soon, innovation created LEDs, OLEDs, and the latest Plasma screens. Modern screens offer better display, and picture quality, and use less energy.

CRT screens

CRTs have been around for more than 100 years. It was first invented in 1897 by Karl Ferdinand Braun. Since then, this monitor became the solution for display until the LCDs were created. To date, some computers and TVS still use CRT screens.

They are still used by the military and in vacuum tube industries. CRTs use cathode ray tubes. These types of screens require more space to display visuals. An electron beam has to strike a radiant surface for this to happen. The screens need a lot of power to run. Very few companies manufacture them today.

Modern computer screens are advanced allowing users to do more with them. Mac users today can extend the computer’s screen to do more tasks from the same computer. It takes simple steps to learn how to extend screen in Mac. Mac extend display involves connecting the MacBook Pro external monitor to the computer. Understanding how to connect Mac to monitor allows you to double the amount of workspace available. Once connected,  users can mirror their Mac screen to multiple screens. Extending screens can be done to allow different teams to work on the same project.

LCD monitors

LCDs were created to cover the gaps in CRTs. The abbreviation stands for Liquid Crystal Display. They were first invented in 1971 but were not commercially used until 1981. Unlike CRTs, LCDs use a flat panel. They use optical devices and liquid crystals to emit light.

The monitor is lighter and uses less energy. Due to this, they generate less heat and last more years. They offer better image contrast and higher resolution. The screens do not generate geometric distortions. It does not get affected by magnetic fields and emits limited heat.

LED monitors

The LED monitor full form is Light-Emitting Diodes. They depend on diodes to generate visuals. HP was the first to produce LEDs in 1968. They were not used commercially until 1989. They are considered more efficient by almost 90% compared to their predecessors. They are built with microchips that illuminate when electricity passes through them.

Each screen contains thousands of LEDs that help fill the entire monitor with light. They require less energy and produce limited heat. Due to this, the LED screen lasts longer. They have better picture quality than LCDs. The screens are lighter and have a faster response time.

OLED monitors

OLEDs were first used in 1997 but were commercially used in 2003. The name stands for Organic Light Emitting Diode. These screens advanced from the LED technology. Scientists added organic molecules in LEDs to improve quality. They added a thin carbon film to the diodes. When energy hits the diodes, the film emits light.

Compared to LEDs, these screens have a faster response time.  The screens are excellent for indoor use and playing games. OLEDs generate more power but use much less energy. They generate limited heat and last more. The monitors are super thin and super light. They produce superior picture quality.

Plasma monitors

Plasmas are more advanced and modern than all the rest. They used electrically charged ionized gas to produce light. The first plasma screen was produced in 1964 at the University of Illinois. They were first used commercially in the 2000s. the screens transformed display accuracy and quality. They emit high contrast and sharp images.

They allow people to view the screen from different angles without affecting quality. The screen contains thousands of tiny gas pockets. When energy goes through them, they become plasma (ionized). The energy powers mercury within the plasma causing it to emit UV light. The monitors use the least energy and produce minute heat. They last the longest and are larger.

Timeline for the different types of monitors

  • CRT – first produced in 1897, first commercially used in the 1920s
  • LCD – First produced in 1971, first commercially used in 1981
  • LED – First produced in 1968, first commercially used in 1989
  • OLED – first produced in 1997, first commercially used in 2003
  • Plasma – First produced in 1964, first commercially used in 2007.


Traditional monitors were bulkier and consumed a lot of energy. Innovation has allowed experts to create advanced monitors today. From CRT, technology advanced to LCD, LED, OLED, and Plasma. The latest screens are energy efficient. They produce better picture quality and emit less heat. They last more years and are still undergoing improvement. Future monitors are destined to be more efficient and lighter.

About the author

Nina Sheridan is a seasoned author at Latterly.org, a blog renowned for its insightful exploration of the increasingly interconnected worlds of business, technology, and lifestyle. With a keen eye for the dynamic interplay between these sectors, Nina brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to her writing. Her expertise lies in dissecting complex topics and presenting them in an accessible, engaging manner that resonates with a diverse audience.