Milestone-Proposal:Outdoor large-scale color display system, 1980

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Docket #:2015-04

This Proposal has been approved, and is now a Milestone

To the proposer’s knowledge, is this achievement subject to litigation? No

Is the achievement you are proposing more than 25 years old? Yes

Is the achievement you are proposing within IEEE’s designated fields as defined by IEEE Bylaw I-104.11, namely: Engineering, Computer Sciences and Information Technology, Physical Sciences, Biological and Medical Sciences, Mathematics, Technical Communications, Education, Management, and Law and Policy. 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 the IEEE Section(s) in which the plaque(s) will be located 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 IEEE Milestone? Yes

Year or range of years in which the achievement occurred:


Title of the proposed milestone:

Outdoor Large-Scale Color Display System, 1980

Plaque citation summarizing the achievement and its significance:

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.

200-250 word abstract describing the significance of the technical achievement being proposed, the person(s) involved, historical context, humanitarian and social impact, as well as any possible controversies the advocate might need to review.

IEEE technical societies and technical councils within whose fields of interest the Milestone proposal resides.

In what IEEE section(s) does it reside?

IEEE Fukuoka Sction, Japan

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) which have agreed to sponsor the Milestone:

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) paying for milestone plaque(s):

Unit: IEEE Fukuoka Section Treasurer
Senior Officer Name: Toru Mizunami

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) arranging the dedication ceremony:

Unit: IEEE Fukuoka Section Secretary
Senior Officer Name: Koji Inoue

IEEE section(s) monitoring the plaque(s):

IEEE Section: IEEE Fukuoka Section Chair
IEEE Section Chair name: Akira Fukuda

Milestone proposer(s):

Proposer name: Zenichiro Hara
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 in decimal form of the intended milestone plaque site(s):

517-7 Hamada-go, Togitsu-cho, Nishisonogi-gun, Nagasaki 851-2102, 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. The intended site of the milestone plaque is where the outdoor large-scale color display system is assembled for the first time, since then the development, design and production of outdoor large-scale color display system is going on. The first image was displayed on the screen at outdoor and the factory acceptance test was carried out on May 14th 1980 before shipping for Dodger Stadium.

Are the original buildings extant?


Details of the plaque mounting:

On a plinth on the grounds

How is the site protected/secured, and in what ways is it accessible to the public?

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

Who is the present owner of the site(s)?

Mitsubishi Electric Corporation

What is the historical significance of the work (its technological, scientific, or social importance)? If personal names are included in citation, include justification here. (see section 6 of Milestone Guidelines)

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.

What obstacles (technical, political, geographic) needed to be overcome?

The obstacles needed to overcome for large-scale color display system were high brightness with lower power consumption, high image quality at various illuminance levels and high reliability for outdoor use.

1) High brightness of three primary colors with lower power consumption and enough life time The conventional electronic scoreboard which arranged the incandescent lamp in a matrix had defects like higher power consumption due to the low luminous efficiency. It was critical for high resolution screen with high density array of the lamps, especially the color filters to obtain three primary colors from incandescent lamp was also the issue for electric power saving. Moreover, the lifetime of incandescent lamp was not so long to keep enough brightness. The lighting tube by Mitsubishi Electric achieved high luminous efficiency based on CRT technology, which realized three primary colors with equivalent phosphor for CRT. The power consumption was around 2W per tube, which was only about one-tenth of incandescent lamp [1, 2]. The lifetime was 8000hr typically, which was much longer than incandescent lamp system [N1].

2) High image quality at various illuminance levels 2-1) High contrast image under sunshine The appearance of phosphors was whitish through clear glass of lighting tube; the reflection of sunshine at phosphor was too large to notice the emission and it was difficult to enjoy the image under sunshine. The colored glass with dye of R, G, B was applied to block the reflection and pass the color emission efficiently; moreover the system applied shading for each lighting tube and avoided exposure to direct sunlight. As a result, the reflection of sunlight was reduced and enough contrast under sunshine was achieved for the first product at Dodger Stadium. The colored glass had some variation in color and two kinds of new glass were developed; one was in common with R and G lighting tubes, the other was for B lighting tube. These glasses transmit the color emission effectively and absorbed external light; the high contrast image under sunshine was established with stable quality [3]. 2-2) High quality image at nighttime The image under sunshine was too bright for nighttime application; the system established the suitable brightness adjustment for daytime and nighttime. One of the excellent features of lighting tube was high response speed; it was suitable to apply the Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) and the turning on and off of pixel was controlled to make cumulative on time proportional to the luminosity of image. The gradation of image was 64 gray revel which was controlled with 64 unit pulses, where the width of each unit pulse was controlled finely with the help of high response speed of CRT. As a result, the same 64 gray revel for bright image with wide unit pulse at daytime and dark image with narrow unit pulse at nighttime was realized and achieved the excellent full-color moving image at various illuminance levels.

3) High reliability of the system at various applications for fine and wild weather The large-scale display system had been exposed directly to outdoor condition like fine or wild weather; the electronic devices especially the lighting tube should have enough reliability for high temperature and high humidity operation. The electrodes of lighting tube were extracted from rear surface portion and the distance between each electrode was close within the diameter 28.6mm. The anode electrode was 10kV for phosphor and discharge between electrodes along the glass surface due to residual material at high humidity condition was the problem. During the production process of lighting tube, the molding and cleaning process of glass with electrodes were optimized to clean the glass surface. Moreover the electrodes were covered by stem base with adhesive for Insulation; the excellent insulation performance and high reliability for outdoor application was realized.

What features 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.

Supporting texts and citations 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 chapters in scholarly books. 'Scholarly' is defined as peer-reviewed, with references, and published. 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. All supporting materials must be in English, or accompanied by an English translation.


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 (supported formats: GIF, JPEG, PNG, PDF, DOC): All supporting materials must be in English, or if not in English, accompanied by an English translation. You must supply the texts or excerpts themselves, not just the references. For documents that are copyright-encumbered, or which you do not have rights to post, email the documents themselves to Please see the Milestone Program Guidelines for more information.

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

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