seven segment display history

Brent Hilpert hilpert at cs.ubc.ca
Thu Feb 28 22:29:44 CST 2008


On 28 Feb 2008 at 15:26, Jules Richardson wrote: 
> Does anyone know when seven segment displays first appeared on the scene? 
> Presumably the first ones were VF, and LED came later?
>
> (I was just looking at a museum's mock-up of the Apollo mission control
> console, and the fake readout is made to look like a 7-seg display; I'm just
> surprised that the digital readouts weren't all Nixie-based back then)

Some datapoints:
  - early 1900's: patents for segmented numeric displays
  - 1963: Friden EC-130 calculator uses 7-seg vector-scan CRT display
  - mid-1960's: Apollo Guidance Computer electroluminescent 7-seg displays

The earliest *off-the-shelf* 7-segment display modules that I've run across are
from ca. 1967:
  http://www3.telus.net/~bhilpert/tmp/dialco7seg/
As can be seen, they use neon bulbs. The displays themselves are not dated but
other component date codes in the instrument they came out of were in the range
66xx-67xx. The large-format 7-seg LED modules that came out 10-15 years later
look pretty much like copies of these.

Earliest I know of for 7-seg VF and single-envelope-incandescent (RCA numitron
and similar) would be very late 60's, for LED's very early 70's.

(NIXIEs were mid- or late- 50's.)




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