Researchers at the University of Illinois are widely credited with inventing the first flat-panel display in 1964. Arne Jacobsen had the same idea… 32 years earlier.
So claims a Copenhagen-based audio-design company. AIAIAI reports that it has documents which shows that Jacobsen, the high priest of Danish modern design, made “comprehensive drawings of what we’re quite certain has to be the world’s first flat screen TV.”
The drawings date to 1932 and detail what a house of the future might look like. One sketch, seen up top via AIAIAI’s website, shows a groovy den-like interior (yes, those are beanbag chairs; please tell us Jacobsen didn’t also invent beanbag chairs!?) with a flat panel on the wall that bears a striking resemblance to the stuff plastered around every sports bar in America. Text on the panel reads “Fjernsynsplade.” Direct translation, according to AIAIAI: “television plate.”
Now before you go and rewrite the “flat panel display” entry on Wikipedia, consider this: Text at the bottom of the drawing says, “Pictures on walls are transmitted via radio from painting collections to the television plate and can be changed according to preference.” So it sounds like Jacobsen meant for the television plate to be more of a digital picture frame than something that could beam out Dancing With The Stars in high definition.
Another point to consider: Jacobsen was a designer and an architect, not an engineer, so he, of course, didn’t have the technological savvy to create an actual flat-panel display. That credit still goes to brainiacs over at U of I. And who’s to say Jacobsen was even the first to come up with the idea? People are always dreaming up half-baked concepts for electronic gadgets. For all we know, someone sketched his own version of a flat-screen TV in 1931.
Still, it’s pretty cool to see that Jacobsen, a guy who brought streamlined furniture into the home, was also clearly thinking about ways of bringing streamlined electronics into the home–and early in his career. He was just 30 when he made the sketches above.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a sudden urge to go and watch some television plate.
[Images via AIAIAI]