Bitzer, Slottow, and Willson invent the plasma display | 150 Engage Illinois Office of Corporate Relations
Celebrating our Sesquicentennial 1867-2017

Professors Donald L. Bitzer (BSEE ‘55, MSEE ‘56, PhD ‘60) and H. Gene Slottow (PhD ‘64), along with student Robert H. Willson (PhD ‘66), invented the plasma display panel in 1964. Originally conceived as an interactive component of the PLATO educational network, the plasma panel was both a display and a storage device. Each pixel or dot on the screen glowed like a little neon sign. Once a pixel was lit, it stayed lit until the person at the PLATO terminal requested new information from the computer. The plasma display created at Illinois is the forerunner to today’s high-definiton flat-panel television monitors. In recognition of their invention and its importance, Bitzer, Slottow, and Willson received an Emmy Award from the National Academy of Television Arts in 2002.

Jan 05, 1964
Media Image: 
Robert Willson and Don Bitzer with their Emmy Awards.
Caption Text: 
Robert Willson and Don Bitzer with their Emmy Awards.