The History of LED and LED Screens

The electroluminescence phenomenon was discovered in 1907 by Henry Joseph Round in a brief two paragraph note. This was the beginning of the lengthy journey towards LED screens as they are today.


The first LED was created by Oleg Losev in 1927. He investigated the effect, theorised how it worked and imagined practical applications. Then the first visible-spectrum red LED was developed by Nick Holonyak in 1962 as an alternative to infrared light. Red LEDs were first mass produced in 1968 by the Monsanto Company used as indicators. The blue LED was created in 1993 by Shuji Nakamura who then went on to win the Nobel Prize in Physics for his invention in 2014. By coating blue LEDs with phosphor it was discovered that a portion of the light can be converted to green, yellow and red light. The first white LED was presented in 1995.


Development in LED technology is rapid, particularly in terms of efficiency and brightness. Since the 1960s, a doubling of these factors has occurred roughly every 36 months. But how has all of this interlinked with the LED screens themselves?


The first true LED screen was developed by James Mitchell in 1977, going on to receive awards from NASA. It only used one colour because of the lack of efficient blue LEDs at the time however this has changed and now big screens are made up of red, green and blue LEDs. However, when discussing LED this mainly refers to LED backlighting because it involves less energy, better contrast and brightness, more colours, more rapid responses and more accurate rendering.


Discover 10 innovative examples of LED uses here or find out about Fonix’s LED screens here.