Milestones:Outdoor large-scale color display system, 1980

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Nagasaki, Japan
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Outdoor Large-Scale Color Display System, 1980


Mitsubishi Electric developed the world's first large-scale emissive color video display system and installed it at Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, California in 1980. It achieved bright, efficient, high-quality moving images using matrix-addressed cathode-ray tubes (CRT) as pixels. With increased dimensions and resolution, the system has entertained and informed millions of people in sports facilities and public spaces worldwide.

Street address(es) and GPS coordinates of the Milestone Plaque Sites

32.7623939,129.8648303 517-7 Hamada-go, Togitsu-cho, Nishisonogi-gun, Nagasaki 851-2102, Japan, 32.7623939,129.8648303

Details of the physical location of the plaque

On a plinth on the grounds

How the intended plaque site is protected/secured

The intended plaque site is on a premise of Mitsubishi Electric Corporation Nagasaki Works and it is protected by guards. The Nagasaki Works welcomes any visitors; the prior notification is required before a visit. The contact information for the visitor is as follows. Mitsubishi Electric Corporation Nagasaki Works 517-7 Hamada-go, Togitsu-cho, Nishisonogi-gun, Nagasaki 851-2102, Japan Phone: +81 95-881-1154

Historical significance of the work

The historical significance of this work is the development of world's first large-scale color display system and the impact on society, global market and technology.

1) Development of world's first large-scale color display system The large-scale displays, which arranged incandescent lamps in a matrix, were utilized to provide common information for a large number of people at outdoor condition. The typical applications were electric score boards or advertising display; the video display was also utilized with single color gray scale image by Stewart Warner. Mitsubishi Electric developed the world's first large-scale color display system and installed at Dodger Stadium, USA in 1980; which innovated the concept of large-scale display from single color message display to full-color video display. The breakthroughs were R (Red), G (Green) and B (Blue) of lighting tubes based on CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) technology and the system, which tiled lighting units seamless where the lighting tubes were arranged in a matrix with pixel arrangement RGBG quadruple. The first system was going to debut at Dodger Stadium for all-star game on July 8th in 1980, which attracted the attention even before the official debut and announced in February to be unveiled at summer’s all-star game [N1], moreover the photo of system was published with the scene of factory acceptance test before shipping in June [N2]. The official debut of the system was announced by Dodger Stadium on the day of all-star game [N3]. After that, the outline of specification like screen size, lighting tube, image quality, viewing distance and video system etc. were reported in the newspaper [N4] and journal articles [1,2].

2) Impact of the system on society In TV age, the people could enjoy the sports on TV at home; the large-scale display system impacted on the way to enjoy sports and played an important role to gather a large number of people to the stadium and entertained them. The system had video equipment like monitor cameras, videotape recorders, display character generator etc. and controlled by computer system so as to service the attractive contents. The contents were instant replay, close-up of key plays, news of games in another stadium, entertainment with effective animations and character information to encourage the team and lift the people in the stadium [N3]. The application was not only sports but also concerts, variety of events and advertisement etc. The services to lift audience with attractive full-color moving image created a new image culture to provide common information and sensation for a large number of people at outdoor. The billboard is one of the applications and changing the landscape of city. According to Asahi Shimbun on January 17th 2015, 4K screens by Japanese companies appeared one after another at Times Square in New York, U.S where people gather from all over the world. The electronic billboards at Times-Square had been developed into LED screens in 1990s; now, standing in the middle of intersection and looking around, more than 50 billboards are operating. Even now, the world market size of LED video display for business is increasing [N5]; the origin of such large-scale display is the system at Dodger Stadium in 1980.

3) Impact of the system on global market The first installation of system at Dodger Stadium created a new market of large-scale display system; follower companies entered into market and the application of systems at baseball stadium spread to various sports facilities like race track, arena and public space including billboard etc. in the world. Mitsubishi Electric played an important role in the industry and developed the lighting tube into flat matrix CRT and furthermore newly developed LED matrix. The large-scale display system was improved the performance like resolution or brightness drastically, and expanded the global market. The LEDs were available for purchase; many companies entered into the market and increased the competition. The cost of screen dropped and the system became convenient for users to install higher performance system with a limited budget. The large-scale display system had been getting larger in screen size and higher in resolution; some of the systems were recorded in the Guinness World Records in size or resolution.

4) Impact of the system on technology The system at Dodger Stadium also impacted on research and development of supersized display system; major companies interested in the technology and market. They developed similar systems with their own lighting tubes such as incandescent lamp with RGB color coating film by Panasonic, colored discharge tube by Toshiba and multiple CRT which include 8 phosphor dots in a glass bulb by English Electric Valve [3]. Sony developed high brightness multiple CRT which applied the technology of Vacuum Fluorescent Display and exhibited at Tsukuba world science exposition in 1985. As the market expands, the application expanded from outdoor to indoor and high resolution lighting devices which include several pixels with three colors were developed to enjoy the image from short viewing distance [4]. The flat matrix CRT by Mitsubishi Electric was one of the multiple CRTs. The technology to tile small display modules was researched for high resolution supersized display, the large-screen display using array of Liquid Crystal Display Modules was developed [5] and recently seamless tiled organic LED (OLED) display system was developed [6]. One of the applications was 6-meter diameter OLED globe at National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation; the origin is the system at Dodger Stadium.

Features that set this work apart from similar achievements

The feature of this innovation was the lighting tube and the system applying RGBG quadruple as pixel arrangement which had a potential for further innovation.

1) The difference of lighting tube from conventional CRT display and similar devices The CRT display focused the electron beam finely to scan the phosphor screen for high resolution image; on the other hand the lighting tube diffused the electron beam to irradiate phosphor screen uniformly without scanning. This feature realized high brightness with high luminous efficiency; the power consumption of lighting tube was lowest comparing with similar devices like incandescent lamp or colored discharge tube [3]. The lighting tube also inherited the excellent features of CRT display like high response speed and wide color reproduction, which were superior to similar devices and effective to establish the new concept of large-scale display system with high-quality full-color moving image.

2) Superiority of the system with potential for further innovation The pixel arrangement RGBG quadruple of the large-scale display system was the first application for the display in practical use; the excellent features compared to similar achievements was the sharpness of image with smaller number of lighting tubes [1] and a potential for further innovation. The pixel consists of 4 sub-pixels (RGBG) and controlled so that the adjusting pixels were overlapped each other and increased the apparent number of pixels for better sharpness or resolution [7]. The innovation was the development of flat matrix CRT; applying RGBG quadruple where 4 sub-pixels were moderately isolated and the design of pixel and electrodes were simplified. The original technology was color filter with lens on each sub-pixel in flat surface and printed electrodes on the substrate behind line cathodes. The color filter with lens blocked reflection at phosphor and passed color emission for high contrast image. The printed electrodes reduced the metal parts and simplified electrodes for high reliability with lower cost. The origin of these technologies was the system at Dodger Stadium in 1980; through the technical transition of lighting tube to flat matrix CRT and LED, high image quality under sunshine and high reliability were inherited and apart from similar achievements.

Significant references


Media:N1 Los Angeles Herald Examiner, Wednesday, February 27, 1980.pdf

Media:N2 Weekly baseball magazine, Jun 23, 1980.pdf

Media:N3 News release of system by Dodger Stadium, July 8, 1980.pdf

Media:N4 Electric Engineering Times, Monday, July 21, 1980.pdf

Media:N5 Asahi Shimbun on January 17th 2015.pdf


Media:1 K. Kurahashi, K. Yagishita, N. Fukushima, H. Kobayashi, “An Outdoor Large Screen Color Display System”, SID 81 DIGEST, pp.132-133 (1981).pdf

Media:2 N. Fukushima, N. Terazaki, “A light-emitting tube array for giant colour display”, DISPLAYS, Volume 4, November 4, October 1983, pp.207-211 (1983).pdf

Media:3 K. Kurahashi, “Giant Screen Display Using an Array of Light Emitting Devices, J.ITEJ, Vol. 38, No.1, pp.21-25 (1984).pdf

Media:4 Iwata et. al; Proceedings of 7th. International Display Research Conference, London, 196-199,(1987).pdf

Media:5 Myodo, et al. A Large Screen Color Display Using an Array of LCD Modules Proc. of Japan Display '83 pp. 430 (1983).pdf

Media:6 Hara, Maeshima, Terazaki, Kiridoshi, Kurata, Okumura, Suehiro, Yuki, “The High Performance Scalable Display with Passive OLEDs”, SID 10 DIGEST, pp.357-360 (2010).pdf

Media:7 Hara, et al. Picture quality of different pixel arrangements for large-size matrix displays, Electronics and Communications in Japan, Part2, Vol.77, No7, pp.105-120,(1994).pdf

Supporting materials

Media:IEEE Milestone Supporting Materials Outdoor large-scale color display system, 1980.pdf


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