Television and Video
Inventions
Broadcast Television

Who invented the plasma television?

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Answer

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05/01/2010

Donald Bitzer and Gene Slottow, graduate student Robert Willson. When newly-minted Ph.D. Don Bitzer, along with fellow University of Illinois professor and senior research engineer Gene Slottow and graduate student Robert Willson, developed the first plasma display, they had no concept of high-definition TV. Bitzer, Slottow and Willson were merely trying to help solve the illiteracy problems in inner city schools. Bitzer became an assistant professor of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at UIUC, and was asked by Daniel Alpert, director of the Coordinated Science Laboratory at the University of Illinois, if he thought computers could be used as private tutors. Within a few months, Bitzer had produced the first computer-based instructional system, PLATO (Programmed Logic for Automatic Teaching Operations), which presented computer graphics with overlaid slides on a television set viewed by the students. As the system expanded to several terminals, it was clear that using storage tubes for memory and a television channel per terminal would not be economical and digital memory was too expensive to use in large quantities at the terminals. A display that was bright, had high contrast, was transparent, and had inherent memory was needed. These were needs that drove Bitzer to recruit Slottow and Willson to invent the A.C. plasma display panel, which they finished in July 1964. The original panels of these early plasma displays were orange and found early use for computer graphic displays. But by 1966, Bitzer, now an associate professor, along with Slottow and Willson demonstrated multicolor panels using a gas discharge rich in ultraviolet light and color phosphors. In 1967, the plasma display was given the Industrial Research 100 award, presented to the most important inventions of the year and Bitzer was made a full professor.
There is no such thing as a plama television.