Who Invented the Touch Screen?


Touch Screens have become quite commonplace in recent years. Video game systems, tablet PCs, even the check-out at grocery stores now use touch screen technology. What most people don't realize is that touchscreen technology, as it is known today, has been around for nearly 30 years and the initial patent for a "touch sensor" goes back to the 1970s.

The Birth of Touch Screens

  • In 1971 a professor from the University of Kentucky, Dr. Sam Hurst, filed a patent for a "touch sensor", called the Elograph.

Five-Wire Resistive Technology

  • The first true touchscreen patent was filed by Dr. Hurst in 1972. Using his patented five-wire resistive technology, this patent would go on to be the most widely used form of touchscreen technology, and is still popular today.

IBM's Touchscreen

  • In 1985, IBM developed their own touchscreen technology for use with their PCs. This touchscreen was developed by Brad Marshall.

Ergonomic Challenges

  • Touchscreen technology was popular in the 1970s and early 1980s, but ergonomic issues led to the decline of touchscreen use in the 1980s. One common complaint was "gorilla arm", where prolonged use of a vertical touchscreen would lead to intense cramping in the arm.

Modern Uses

  • Touchscreen technology is in wide use today, in many forms. The Apple iPhone uses touchscreen technology, as does the Nintendo DS handheld. Many ATM machines use older touchscreen patents.

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