The quiet death of the CRT monitor

We all know that when advertisers on TV say “Hurry…while supplies last!” they are actually sitting on a warehouse full of plastic choppers or steak knives or tomato plant seeds. There is little need to rush your order. And I suspect if they get close to somehow selling out, they’ll simply make more.

So when I got a press release from Dream Arcades saying that they were running out of CRT monitors, I didn’t pay it much heed at first. But the press release went on to say that companies that used to make CRTs either went out of business or are now only selling LCDs and other display types.


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Dream Arcades simply can’t find any new CRTs to buy, so its custom arcade machines will have to be based on LCDs from now on. That sounded reasonable, though it still seems a stretch that the CRT would disappear even in arcades, where it had seemed to find a permanent home.

I still didn’t quite believe it. CRTs were everywhere not that long ago, and some agencies hung onto theirs for a really long time. Could the supply really be all used up?

As an experiment, I did a Google search for “buy CRT monitor” and the first 10 listings were all from eBay and sellers of used equipment. Then I found a page from ViewSonic that touted a 15-inch CRT it was selling. I read about the monitor and then clicked on the button to begin the purchase process. File not found.

The same thing happened with page about a Dell CRT. It looked like it was available at first, but really wasn’t. In fact, other than used and refurbished dealers, I could only find a handful of companies that still sold them, and most of those were based in Asia with names I’ve never heard of before.

You won’t catch me crying about the loss of these not-so-gentle giants. The lab still has a few in boxes, but mostly for posterity’s sake. Back when they were the norm, my eyes were strained to the point where I almost needed glasses (switching to all-LCDs saved the day), I injured my back lifting one of the 30-inch heavies, a few broke for no obvious reason, and a really bad one we were testing actually caught on fire.

And that doesn’t even go into the many annoyances in terms of visual quality, the fact that you could see the grounding wires behind the tube, or that they didn’t look right until you warmed them up for a good 15 minutes or so.

No, if the CRT era has in fact finally passed, even from its arcade stronghold, I say let it rest in piece. I knocked a few of them into pieces over the years, and this seems a better fate. Like an old soldier, they just faded away.  


About the Author

John Breeden II is a freelance technology writer for GCN.


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