Milestone-Proposal:Sharp 14-inch thin-film-transistor liquid-crystal display (TFT-LCD) for TV, which has ushered in TFT LCD industry
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This Proposal has been approved, and is now a Milestone
To the proposer’s knowledge, is this achievement subject to litigation?
Is the achievement you are proposing more than 25 years old? Yes
Is the achievement you are proposing within IEEE’s fields of interest? (e.g. “the theory and practice of electrical, electronics, communications and computer engineering, as well as computer science, the allied branches of engineering and the related arts and sciences” – from the IEEE Constitution) Yes
Did the achievement provide a meaningful benefit for humanity? Yes
Was it of at least regional importance? Yes
Has an IEEE Organizational Unit agreed to pay for the milestone plaque(s)? Yes
Has an IEEE Organizational Unit agreed to arrange the dedication ceremony? Yes
Has the IEEE Section in which the milestone is located agreed to take responsibility for the plaque after it is dedicated? Yes
Has the owner of the site agreed to have it designated as an Electrical Engineering Milestone? Yes
Year or range of years in which the achievement occurred:
Title of the proposed milestone:
Sharp 14-inch Thin-Film-Transistor Liquid-Crystal Display (TFT-LCD) for TV, 1988
Plaque citation summarizing the achievement and its significance:
Sharp demonstrated a fourteen-inch TFT-LCD for TV in 1988 when the display size of the mass-produced TFT-LCD was three inches. The high display quality in Cathode Ray Tube size convinced other electronic companies to join the infant TFT-LCD industry aimed at emerging full-color portable PCs. Two decades later, TFT-LCDs replaced CRTs, making the vision of RCA's LCD group in the 1960s a reality.
In what IEEE section(s) does it reside?
IEEE Kansai Section
IEEE Organizational Unit(s) which have agreed to sponsor the Milestone:
IEEE Organizational Unit(s) paying for milestone plaque(s):
Unit: IEEE Kansai Section
Senior Officer Name: Senior officer name masked to public
IEEE Organizational Unit(s) arranging the dedication ceremony:
Unit: IEEE Kansai Section
Senior Officer Name: Senior officer name masked to public
IEEE section(s) monitoring the plaque(s):
IEEE Section: IEEE Kansai Section
IEEE Section Chair name: Section chair name masked to public
Proposer name: Proposer's name masked to public
Proposer email: Proposer's email masked to public
Please note: your email address and contact information will be masked on the website for privacy reasons. Only IEEE History Center Staff will be able to view the email address.
Street address(es) and GPS coordinates of the intended milestone plaque site(s):
2613-1 Ichinomoto-cho, Tenri, Nara 632-8567 Japan
Describe briefly the intended site(s) of the milestone plaque(s). The intended site(s) must have a direct connection with the achievement (e.g. where developed, invented, tested, demonstrated, installed, or operated, etc.). A museum where a device or example of the technology is displayed, or the university where the inventor studied, are not, in themselves, sufficient connection for a milestone plaque.
Please give the address(es) of the plaque site(s) (GPS coordinates if you have them). Also please give the details of the mounting, i.e. on the outside of the building, in the ground floor entrance hall, on a plinth on the grounds, etc. If visitors to the plaque site will need to go through security, or make an appointment, please give the contact information visitors will need. Sharp Technology Innovation Museum, R&D Group, Sharp Corporation
Are the original buildings extant?
Details of the plaque mounting:
The milestone plaque is to be kept in Sharp Technology Innovation Museum, and shown to the public along with other milestones of Sharp business activities of a 100 year history. Sharp Technology Innovation Museum is located in the premise of Sharp Technology Center where LCD research was started and culminated in mass-producing the world-first mini-calculator mounted with LCD and C-MOS logic : the calculator is displayed at the British Science Museum.
How is the site protected/secured, and in what ways is it accessible to the public?
Public visitors have to go through security, have to wear ID cards in the museum.
Appointment has to be made to visit the site.
The appointment contact: +81-743-65-0011
Who is the present owner of the site(s)?
Sharp Technology Innovation Museum, R&D Group, Sharp Corporation
What is the historical significance of the work (its technological, scientific, or social importance)?
It showed that an ideal display, namely, a flat, low-power, light-weight, CRT-sized full-color video display ,which could be used also in high ambient light, is technologically feasible, and that is exactly what had been long waited for to be used in an emerging information age since LCD was press-released in 1968 by RCA. Technologically, it showed : 1. a-Si-TFT could be used for CRT size display. 2. Color TFT-LCD could maintain good display quality even in an high ambient light. 3. A large mother glass scheme could work for a-Si-TFT-LCD, which was proved by the high display uniformity across the entire display area. The mother glass 300mm x 320mm was the very forerunner of the mother glass generation competition which started around 1990, 2 years after Sharp 14-in. full color TFT-LCD was demonstrated.
What obstacles (technical, political, geographic) needed to be overcome?
Ⅰ. Technology wise: At the time when a mere small 3-in. a-Si-TFT-LCD production was just started with poor yield, unstable and far-from-being-matured production equipment, small output capacity drivers, engineers had to prepare line-defect free TFT-LCD panels with high display quality, meaning large contrast ratio, high color saturation with high uniformity, and they made a precise electrical and physical system analysis and designing and devised redundant pixel and bus line schemes, and employed normally-white LCD operation mode, which was first employed in 3-in. TFT-LCD panel, and developed the TFT-LCD panel and its driving scheme to achieve higher contrast ratio, better gray scale and full-color rendition, wider tolerance in temperature and cell-gap variations, leading higher display uniformity across the entire large display area, than normally-black mode could achieve in those days.
Ⅱ. Organization management wise: Sharp's first application of TFT-LCD was television which is supposed to be exposed to "critical" consumers 3-5 hours everyday for more than 10 years. So, from the very beginning of development project started in April 1984, TV business group, who understand the market, located in Yaita-shi, Tochigi-ken, and TFT-LCD research group located in Tenri-shi, Nara-ken, worked closely; even though, two places are about 600km apart. TV group, headed by Magohiro ARAMOTO, whose leading member was Masakazu YAMAMOTO, joined by Shuhji KOHZAI later on, showed the clear target specifications and pointed out critical display quality factors to be improved, and also transferred TV evaluation methods to TFT-LCD research group; TFT-LCD research group, headed by Masataka MATUURA, whose leading members were Funada FUMIAKI, with Yutaka ISHII as sub-leader, for LC material and operation mode and acting deputy to Matsuura, Kohzo YANO for TFT process, Hiroshi TAKE for system designing of TFT, LCD panel and driving circuitry, and evaluation of TFT-LCD as an integrated system, achieved and acquired them.
In the production project started in November 1985, LCD business group, headed by Mitsuo ISHII, located in Yamato-Kohriyama-shi, Nara-ken, joined the project, bringing in panel production technology including large mother glass handling know-hows, and, the thin-film solar battery group, headed by Toshio TAKEMOTO, located in Shinjoh-shi, Nara-ken, was also incorporated into ISHII's group,afterward, bringing in amorphous-Silicon(a-Si) thin-film solar-cell mass-production technology whose basics are similar to those of a-Si TFT.
In the Japanese Consumer Electronics Show, October 1986, the production project demonstrated 3-inch TFT-LCD TV which employed a normally-white LCD operation mode. The mechanical design of the 3-inch TFT-LCD module mounted on the demonstrated TV was done by Kenichi UKAI who joined the project June 1986 from Electronic Component Business Division, whose main products included miniaturized electronic TV tuners, located in Osaka-shi, Osaka-fu.
The world-first TFT-LCD factory with a large mother glass 300mmx320mm was build in the precinct of Research and Development Group, located in Tenri-shi, Nara-ken, toward the end of 1986, near the Central Reaearch Laboratories TFT-LCD research group belonged to.
April 1987, YANO and TAKE of TFT-LCD research group moved to LCD Business Division whose general manager was Isamu WASHIZUKA, to be the technology and engineering core members of the newly-created The 3rd Production Department which had all the essential functions to execute TFT-LCD business, such as TFT-LCD process engineering, electronics and mechanical engineerings, administration, and production, irregularly incorporated with Mitsuo ISHII as general manager.
The 1st Sharp LC-TV "3C-E1" with 3-inch TFT-LCD, display dot 384Hx240V in a triangle arrangement, was put on the martket June 1987, half a year later than originally scheduled; the TFT-LCD production yield was miserable, though.
In one of meetings held everyday in the evening to improve production yield of 3-inch TFT-LCD panel, Washizuka gave an additional mission to look into the future, and to search for TFT-LCD technology capability for TV, and instigated young engineers to study and propose larger display prototype development plans without giving any clear target size numbers and time frames.
Around middle of 1987, a voluntary project team was set up, headed by Mitsuo ISHII, whose leading members were Toshio AKAI for product planning, Kohzo YANO for TFT-LCD process and Hiroshi TAKE for electronics and system.
Numbers of panels, with the aspect ratio of 4:3 for TV, prepared on a rectangular mother glass substrate change stepwise.
The study showed the mother glass 300mmx320mm could accommodate four 6.6-in. panels, two 8.9-in. panels, one 14-in. panel.
The project team almost reached a consensus to adopt 8.9-in. size for a challenging target: 6.6-in. seemed to give only a small impact; 14-in. seemed to be too risky to get good panels, meaning with high display uniformity across the entire display area, no-line defects and acceptable dot defects by infant technology and equipment.
TAKE made a phone call to Magohiro ARAMOTO, general manager of TV Division, and had guided the TFT-LCD development project to improve display quality for TV, to try to understand the TV market, and asked ARAMOTO what would be the minimum size of TFT-LCD to be widely used by people.
ARAMOTO’s right-away answer was 14-in. as 14-in. CRT TV was mass-produced in the largest number in the Japanese consumer market in those days.
TAKE, evaluation and characterization research engineer by background, knew the difficulty to prepare 14-in. panel using the same process and equipment used to mass-produce 3-in. panels with poor yield, but decided to accept ARAMOTO’s number 14-in., saying to himself the possible largest size on the mother glass would show up, more clearly than smaller sizes, problems and issues TFT-LCD had to solve and tackle with to be a viable technology in TV and other markets dominated by CRTs.
The panel should be compatible with NTSC/M TV system, and display dot number was decided to be 642Hx480V with available analog driver-LSI output terminal numbers taken into consideration. The trios of red, green and blue primary color dots were arranged in a triangle pattern to maximize the resolution with the limited display dot number.
The target TFT-LCD panel specifications was accepted in the project team after YANO, with Hiroaki KATOH as his process designing section leader, made a thorough review of the TFT-LCD process and equipment in the 3-in.-mass-producing factory to make sure 14-in. was NOT impossible , and authorized by WASHIZUKA afterwards.
The 14-in. TFT-LCD panels were prepared by using the production line whose main product was 3-inch TFT-LCD panel, and 4-inch TFT-LCD production was just started. There were a lot of fierce arguments and misunderstandings within the newly-formed production department whoes members had been recruited from various departments of various business divisions of Sharp Corporation, but those were managed and solved by tightly sharing the common mission: Make TV displays for OUR TVs!: Sharp Corporation mass-produced B/W CRT-TV in 1953, 1st in Japan, under the license agreement with RCA, and had been one of the leading worldwide TV makers, but had not produced CRTs inhouse; all CRTs on Sharp TVs been bought from outside.
What features set this work apart from similar achievements?
At the very beginning of a-Si-TFT-LCD business startup, this work clearly showed a-Si-TFT-LCD have the potential to replace monster CRT in the coming information age by its superior characteristics: flatness, light-weight, small power consumption, high saturation full-color rendition, high readability in high ambient light, realized on the 14-in. display size, the most dominant size in the contemporary market by using the technology which was developed to mass-produce twenty 3-in. TFT-LCD TV panels laid out on the mother glass of 300mm x 320mm dimensions. The high display quality was brought about by the fierce battle and cooperation between TFT-LCD research group and TV business group. TV business group knew the market and joined the development project from the very beginning and gave a clear display quality target to TFT-LCD research group to achieve and make the TFT-LCD a viable display technology against CRT dominance. TFT-LCD research group accepted the challenge and made it.
References to establish the dates, location, and importance of the achievement: Minimum of five (5), but as many as needed to support the milestone, such as patents, contemporary newspaper articles, journal articles, or citations to pages in scholarly books. You must supply the texts or excerpts themselves, not just the references. At least one of the references must be from a scholarly book or journal article.
 “Sharp has developed a 14 TFT color LCD unit,” Sharp Corp. News Release, June 24, 1988.
 T. Nagayasu, T. Oketani, T. Hirobe, H. Kato, S. Mizushima, H. Take, K. Yano, M. Hijikigawa, and I. Washizuka, “A 14-in-diagonal full color a-Si TFT LCD,” in Proc. Int. Display Research Conf., San Diego, CA, Oct. 1988, pp. 56–58.
 G. H. Heilmeier, “Liquid crystal displays: An experiment in interdisciplinary research that worked,” IEEE Trans. Electron Devices, vol. ED-23, July 1976.
 “George Heilmeier. The liquid crystal display,” Wall Street J., May 24, 1993.
 H. Kawamoto, “The History of Liquid-Crystal Display and its Industry,” Proceedings of 2012 IEEE HISTELCON, Pavia, Italy, September 2012
 B.J.Lechner, "History Crystallized_A First-Person Account of the Development of Matrix-Addressed LCDs for television at RCA in the 1960s",Information Display 1/08 p26-30
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Please email a jpeg or PDF a letter in English, or with English translation, from the site owner(s) giving permission to place IEEE milestone plaque on the property, and a letter (or forwarded email) from the appropriate Section Chair supporting the Milestone application to email@example.com with the subject line "Attention: Milestone Administrator"
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20130218 IEEE GHN milestone Sharp 14in. TFT-LCD 1988 General Description-10.pdf