When Did TV Screen Sizes Change? (A History Up to 2024…)

The transition to widescreen TV displays, with a 16:9 aspect ratio, occurred largely between the 1990s and early 2000s.

Widescreen televisions started to become increasingly common in the 1990s, and by the early 2000s, they began replacing the original 4:3 format, eventually phasing out 4:3 TVs in the early 2000s.

During this time, flat-screen technology began replacing cathode ray tube (CRT) and rear projection, resulting in lighter yet larger TVs that were more affordable than ever before.

Here’s the total break-down:

The Early Days (1920s-1940s)

Screens were tiny, typically 3-12 inches diagonally.

This was due to the limitations of the technology at the time. Mechanical televisions, which used spinning discs to create an image, were large and cumbersome.

Early electronic televisions, while smaller and more manageable than their mechanical predecessors, still relied on bulky cathode ray tubes (CRTs).

CRTs required a large, deep enclosure to house the electron gun that fired beams at the phosphor-coated screen to create an image.

This significantly restricted how large TVs could be while remaining practical for home use.

However, television was still a new invention during this period, and widespread adoption among consumers had not yet occurred.

Post-War Growth (1950s-1970s)

Televisions became more popular, leading to larger screens. By the 1970s, 19-inch to 25-inch sets became commonplace.

Bigger, but Boxy (1980s-1990s)

Screens reached 30+ inches.

However, sets remained bulky due to the reliance on cathode ray tube (CRT) technology.

The Widescreen Revolution (Late 1990s-Early 2000s)

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, TVs went through a big change.

They shifted from being square-shaped (4:3) to wide-screen (16:9). This change happened for two main reasons.

  • First, it made TV shows look more like movies shown in cinemas, giving a better experience at home.
  • Second, as high-definition TV (HDTV) became popular, wide-screen TVs matched its wider and clearer picture.

The wider shape of these TVs allowed for showing more stuff on the screen, making watching TV feel more real.

Also, these TVs got bigger but thinner and lighter, making them easier to handle.

This led to the huge home theaters we have today.

The Flat Panel Boom (Early 2000s-Onward)

The rise of plasma and LCD technologies paved the way for even larger screens with slimmer profiles.

Today, screens sizes now routinely exceed 55 inches, with 65+ inch sets becoming increasingly common.

HD and Beyond (Mid 2000s-Present)

High-definition (HD) became the standard resolution, followed by the emergence of 4K and even 8K resolutions.

These advancements in picture quality further fueled the demand for larger screens to fully appreciate the increased visual detail.

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