Main image of article Marvel at a 1980s Touchscreen
Think touchscreens are a relatively recent invention? Think again: As far back as 40 years ago, scientists were exploring the possibilities of using fingers to interact with a screen. As demonstrated by the above video from 1982 (hat tip to Gizmodo for the link), their thinking wasn’t limited to capacitive or resistive touchscreens, which detect the pressure of a finger or stylus against glass; researchers also experimented with lining a PC screen with photodiodes that transmitted infrared. When someone touched the screen, it would break the infrared beam at a particular set of coordinates, giving the computer the data necessary to display something there. Check out the latest touchscreen-related jobs. What did those early researchers envision as the best use for touchscreens? Writing your name, playing games, and controlling machinery. That’s a very limited set of functions, compared to all the ways that people use touchscreens today.

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Image: BritLab