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LCDs' Bright Future

Three separate advances are making TVs lighter and cheaper

4 min read
LCDs' Bright Future


Photos, from top: 3M; Corning; Alfred Poor
LIGHT SCREENS: New technology from 3M [top] adds an extra layer to displays but eliminates bulky side-lighting systems. Flexible glass from Corning [center] and Asahi [bottom] lowers manufacturing costs as well as weight.

The LCD is an antique technology by almost any measure. Liquid crystal material was first discovered in Austria in 1888, about 10 years before the invention of the cathode-ray tube. The first liquid crystal displays—in wristwatches—go back to the early 1970s. Today, we can make LCD flat-panel displays with diagonals of 70 inches or more. And yet we've hardly scratched the surface, so to speak, of what the technology can do.

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From WinZips to Cat GIFs, Jacob Ziv’s Algorithms Have Powered Decades of Compression

The lossless-compression pioneer received the 2021 IEEE Medal of Honor

11 min read
Photo of Jacob Ziv
Photo: Rami Shlush

Lossless data compression seems a bit like a magic trick. Its cousin, lossy compression, is easier to comprehend. Lossy algorithms are used to get music into the popular MP3 format and turn a digital image into a standard JPEG file. They do this by selectively removing bits, taking what scientists know about the way we see and hear to determine which bits we'd least miss. But no one can make the case that the resulting file is a perfect replica of the original.

Not so with lossless data compression. Bits do disappear, making the data file dramatically smaller and thus easier to store and transmit. The important difference is that the bits reappear on command. It's as if the bits are rabbits in a magician's act, disappearing and then reappearing from inside a hat at the wave of a wand.

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