A touchscreen is a computer peripheral that combines a display screen features (monitor) and those of a pointing device, such as a mouse or touchpad, but also with an optical stylus.
This allows to reduce the number of the peripheral devices and make ergonomic software very well suited to certain functions. The touchscreen technology is used, for example, in PDA, GPS, MP3 players, smartphones, tablets, portable game consoles, automatic ticketing, ATMs, all tills without cashier and computer.
A touch screen may be sensitive to more than two pressure levels with better resolution (graphic tablet / stylus pen) and more than one place at a time (multi-touch / fingers)
Touchscreen was invented in the United States in the framework of research on programmed instruction. Computer system PLATO IV, which appeared in 1972, had a touch screen on a grid of infrared rays, which consisted of 16 × 16 blocks. Nevertheless, even such a low accuracy system allowed a user to choose an answer by touching the screen in the right place.
In 1971, Samuel Hurst (future founder of Elographics, now Elo TouchSystems) developed elograf – a graphics tablet, which operated on the principle of four-wire resistive touchscreen (US Patent 3,662,105). In 1974, Hurst was able to make the elograf transparent, and in 1977, he developed a five-wire screen. Teaming up with Siemens, Elographics managed to make a convex touchpad appropriate for the CRT screens of the time. At the World’s Fair in 1982, Elographics introduced a TV with touch screen.
In 1983, HP-150 was released, which was a computer with a touch screen on the IR grid. However, in those days, touchscreen technology was used mainly in industrial and medical equipment.
Touchscreen technology is now widely used in the consumer electronic devices (phones, PDAs, etc.). They have come into play when there was necessity to replace a tiny keyboard with large (the entire front panel) LCD screens. The first portable game console with a touchscreen was Nintendo DS, the first mass device that supports multi-touch was an iPhone.
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