So Long and Thanks!

Hmmm… This is a strange moment for me as I write my last editorial for LDM and MDM.

It won’t be my last bit of writing about displays as I will still be one of the Display Daily columnists and will be doing some reports for our successors at DSCC (and am available for hire!). This issue is around the 1,200th issue that we have produced. I haven’t written all of them; for several years, my business partner, Pete Gamby, looked after the publication and wrote the editorials, but I got it back about ten years when he moved into a new position. When I spoke to Pete and told him that we were ending publication, he asked “how many words did we do?”. The answer, in the two publications, is around 19 million – and almost 7.5 million of those over the last four years since we added Mobile Display Monitor. I think that makes us the journal of record for the industry.

One of our subscribing companies has been with us since our first issue. And thereby hangs a story!

We had advertised our newsletter, but had only produced a few short pages of sample. A company subscribed. That meant that we had to create a full issue, for just one reader! I said to my wife (who has worked from time to time for the company for its whole life) “Can’t I just call them and tell them what they need to know?”. “No”, she said, “you have to write it”. At the time, I was the world’s most reluctant writer, but somehow, after many millions of words, they come easily now!

Looking back over the time, we have really covered the rise and rise of LCD, which is probably past its peak in terms of technology leadership, if not in terms of market domination by volume. When we started, nobody was very interested in LCDs except for notebook applications. There are many famous mistakes in technology forecasting and I still think that my biggest one was in saying in the early days of TFT LCDs that “nobody will ever make one above 25 inches diagonal – it’s just too difficult”. Hmmm… I was wrong on that one! However, that was early on and since then, I have learned never to bet against the engineers!

However, I have also learned, as I mentioned a couple of weeks ago in the context of an article about MicroLED that ‘we’re 90% there’ doesn’t mean that the last 10% will be easy or even possible. As I have said several times in the last few months, it is around 15 years ago that we first reported that inkjet printing for OLEDs is ‘close to a breakthrough’. I’m reminded of the old electronics joke that (in the context of the end of development of silicon-based devices) “The future of electronics is gallium arsenide, and always will be!”.

Looking to the future, I think that the display industry is headed for a really interesting period of technology and, as always, the consumers will be the real winners. By chance, I have been asked to give talks about the future of displays at a number of conferences over the next few months (and am available for hire!) and it has been relatively easy to think of lots of innovation and developments that I can talk about.

Anyway, as our production designer is looking to finish for the week, I’ll sign off now with a thank you to all our subscribers, staff and contributors over the last twenty four years and to the scientists and engineers that have meant that we have never had a ‘no news week’!