Quick Service for Full HMI Parts Replacement
Home / "KTP" series

"KTP" series

Who Invented Touch Screen Technology?

According to PC Magazine, a touch screen is, "a display screen that is sensitive to the touch of a finger or stylus. Widely used on ATM machines, retail point-of-sale terminals, car navigation systems, medical monitors and industrial control panels, the touch screen became wildly popular on handhelds after Apple introduced the iPhone in 2007."

The touch screen is one of the easiest to use and most intuitive of all computer interfaces, a touch screen allows users to navigate a computer system by touching icons or links on the screen.


There are three components used in touch screen technology:

  • The touch sensor is a panel with a touch responsive surface. Systems are built based on different types of sensors: resistive (most common), surface acoustic wave, and capacitive (most smartphones). However, in general, sensors have an electrical current running through them and touching the screen causes a voltage change. The voltage change signals the location of the touching.
  • The controller is the hardware that converts the voltage changes on the sensor into signals the computer or another device can receive.
  • Software tells the computer, smartphone, game device, etc, what's happening on the sensor and the information coming from the controller. Who's touching what where; and allows the computer or smartphone to react accordingly.

Of course, the technology works in combination with a computer, smartphone, or another type of device.


According to Malik Sharrieff, an eHow Contributor, "the resistive system is comprised of five components, including the CRT (cathode ray tube) or screen base, the glass panel, the resistive coating, a separator dot, a conductive cover sheet and a durable top coating."

When a finger or stylus presses down on the top surface, the two metallic layers become connected (they touch), the surface acts as a pair of voltage dividers with connected outputs. This causes a change in the electrical current. The pressure from your finger causes conductive and resistive layers of circuitry to touch each other, changing the circuits' resistance, which registers as a touch screen event that is sent to the computer controller for processing.

Capacitive touch screens use a layer of capacitive material to hold an electrical charge; touching the screen changes the amount of charge at a specific point of contact.



Historians consider the first touch screen to be a capacitive touch screen invented by E.A. Johnson at the Royal Radar Establishment, Malvern, UK, around 1965 - 1967. The inventor published a full description of touch screen technology for air traffic control in an article published in 1968.


In 1971, a "touch sensor" was developed by Doctor Sam Hurst (founder of Elographics) while he was an instructor at the University of Kentucky. This sensor called the "Elograph" was patented by The University of Kentucky Research Foundation.

The "Elograph" was not transparent like modern touch screens, however, it was a significant milestone in touch screen technology. The Elograph was selected by Industrial Research as one of the 100 Most Significant New Technical Products of the Year 1973.

In 1974, the first true touch screen incorporating a transparent surface came on the scene developed by Sam Hurst and Elographics. In 1977, Elographics developed and patented a resistive touch screen technology, the most popular touch screen technology in use today.

In 1977, Siemens Corporation financed an effort by Elographics to produce the first curved glass touch sensor interface, which became the first device to have the name "touch screen" attached to it. On February 24, 1994, the company officially changed its name from Elographics to Elo TouchSystems.

  • Elographics Patents
  • US3662105: Electrical Sensor Of Plane Coordinates
    Inventor(s)Hurst; George S., Lexington, KY - Parks; James E., Lexington, KYIssued/Filed Dates:May 9, 1972 / May 21, 1970
  • US3798370: Electrographic Sensor For Determining Planar Coordinates
    Inventor(s)Hurst; George S., Oak Ridge, TNIssued/Filed Dates:March 19, 1974 / April 17, 1972


In 1983, the computer manufacturing company, Hewlett-Packard introduced the HP-150, a home computer with touch screen technology. The HP-150 had a built-in a grid of infrared beams across the front of the monitor which detected finger movements. However, the infrared sensors would collect dust and require frequent cleanings.


The nineties introduced smartphones and handhelds with touch screen technology. In 1993, Apple released the Newton PDA, equipped with handwriting recognition; and IBM released the first smartphone called Simon, which featured a calendar, notepad, and fax function, and a touch screen interface that allowed users to dial phone numbers. In 1996, Palm entered the PDA market and advanced touch screen technology with its Pilot series.


In 2002, Microsoft introduced the Windows XP Tablet edition and started its entry into touch technology. However, you could say that the increase in the popularity of touch screen smart phones defined the 2000s. In 2007, Apple introduced the king of smartphones, the iPhone, with nothing but touch screen technology.

The Evolution of Touch Screen Cover Glass 

Necessity is the mother of invention.  It is rumored that the first version of the Apple iPhone™ had a plastic cover made from the same material used in touch panels for decades.  However, after a few weeks in the jeans pocket of Steve Jobs, the touch screen was so badly scratched (possibly from other pocket items such as keys) that he ordered a change from a plastic to a glass cover.

Thus, Apple™ changed the touch device market by incorporating a seamless, protective cover glass on the top of the touch screen.  This design change was both cosmetic (no ridges on the front) and functional, in that it protected the touch screen from wearing out. The phone’s “cover glass” or “cover lens” was ordinary window glass that chemically strengthened, cut with a hole for the home button, a slot for the earphone, and had a simple black decoration on the back.  Today, the cover glass has become much more, and in monetary terms, has eclipsed the cost of the touch sensor.

Touch Screen Cover Glass 1

Compared to plastic, glass had the advantage of better optical properties, scratch resistance and electrical (touch) performance, but the disadvantage of breaking on impact.  To prevent against breakage, glass is hardened by either heat tempering or chemical tempering [insert link to TI white paper on glass].   Since heat tempering can leave tiny ripples that can distort the display image, all touch screen cover glass is chemically strengthened.

Cover glass is made from large sheets of glass, usually .55mm, .75mm or 1.1mm thick, cut to the approximate final size by an “XY” glass cutter.  In high volume operations (quantities larger than 5,000 units per month), the small rectangular sheets are glued together into a brick using beeswax, and then ground into needed shape by a grinding wheel. Once the glass brick is ground a diamond drill bit cuts holes in the stack. The beeswax is melted off and the glass is made ready for routing for such things as the earphone slot.  At this point, the glass may be polished to remove manufacturing residue, but most likely placed into a high temperature salt bath for 8 to 16 hours for chemical strengthening.

For cover glass volumes of less than 5,000 units per month, a numerical control (NC) machine is used to grind and seam the edge. Then, holes and slots are cut into the glass, followed by chemical tempering.

After the cover glass is strengthened, the non-touch side (back) of the glass is printed with one or more colors.  It is then attached to the sensor and finally installed onto the device.

The next big change occurred with the introduction of AAS glass by Corning™, branded as Gorilla Glass™ (soon followed by Dragon Trail™, Xensation™, and others).  When chemically strengthened, AAS glass has about the same break resistance as standard cover glass, but when the AAS glass was scratched (think keys again), it did not lose its “strength” in the same way conventional glass did.  Thus Samsung and Apple advertised the use of this glass in their phones and it became commonly used.


Proceeding Gorilla Glass™, changes to cover glass next came in the form of coatings on the glass. The advent and popularity of the “selfie” created the need for better optical performance on a phone’s front facing camera.  Thin chromatic coatings were put behind the peep hole, and anti-fingerprint coatings are now added to the surface of the cover glass to keep image from the display clear and sharp. Historically touch panels had anti-glare coatings, and there is renewed interest in this feature as well.  anti-reflective coatings, combined with an anti-wear coating, which helps sunlight readability.

Primarily for design reasons, Touch International is now bending cover glass into 2d and 3d shapes; the first 2d production phone is the Galaxy Edge™.  For “black out” looks, the cover lenses are also tinted so that the display is only seen when it is on.

Touch International believes that cover glass will either be eliminated or will be replaced by plastic.  Though plastic failed in the past due to scratching, there are anti-scratch coatings for plastic that Touch International applies that has the same hardness of glass.  These coatings are expensive, but as prices come down, so will the requirement for glass as the lens.

And, due to advances we have made in touch sensors, we are now incorporating the touch panel directly into the plastic housing which we also manufacture.  So the cover glass and touch sensor are incorporated into the “box” and both the cover glass and touch panel, as we know them, will be gone.

Touch International has more information in the touch screen white papers on this subject.

All trademarks and registered trademarks are the property of their respective owners.  Touch International is not affiliate with Apple, Corning, Gorilla Glass, Galaxy Edge, Dragon Trail, Xensation, or the iPhone.

The History of Touch Screen Technology


14-07-2017 - Swiping a touch screen has become natural behavior. We automatically assume we can swipe any display screen. But when was the first touch screen actually invented?

Nowadays when we think of touch screens, we tend to think of the consumer products we love - smartphones and tablets. These touch optimized products are widely available around the world and honestly? We can't live without them.

Touch screen technology has been around longer than you think though. Long before we started swiping every screen we see, the first touch screens came to life.

Technology historians say touch screen technology began in the music industry when touch sensitive synthesizers were developed. In 1948 Hugh Le Caine came up with the Electronic Sackbut. A device that required a piano keyboard and control board.

The instrument's player could use touch to control the volume by putting pressure on the keys. And they could change the music's texture options through the control board.

After this futuristic touch screen technology innovation nothing happened for a couple of decades. So lets fast forward to the 1960's when touch screen technology was first combined with computer technology.


Bonus: Get a free comparison chart of the touch screen technologies we use today to save, reference or e-mail to colleagues. Click here to get it free.

1960's - Capactive Touch Screen Technology

The foundation of the touch screens we know today starts in 1965. That's when E.A. Johnson discovered the benefits of touch screen technology and invented the first finger-driven touch screen.

He published his creation in an article called 'Touch display - a novel input/output device for computers'. The article featured a diagram as well, describing a technology that we still use today in ATM and kiosk applications. Capacitive touch screen technology.


1970's - Resistive Touch Screen Technology

The resistive touch screen was realized 5 years later in 1970, by Dr. G. Samuel Hurst. Resistive touch screen technology quickly outshone its predecessor. Dr. Hurst actually invented this type of touch screen technology by accident during a scientific experiment.

He later spent some time perfecting the touch screen and realized the benefits of touch screens when he placed it over a computer monitor. Today resistive touch screens are the cheapest of its kind and widely used in restaurants and factories around the world. Taking advantage of it's durability.


[ Further Reading - The History of Display Technology ]


1980's - First Commercial Use

In the early 1980's touch screens were used more frequently and in more diverse applications. Hewlett-Packard commercialized touch screens by launching the HP-150. The first touch computer.

The University of Toronto then took a great step in the development of touch screen technology. They discovered multi touch. In 1982 they invented the first human-controlled multi-touch device. A touch screen that could detect multiple touch points.

The advantages and benefits of multi touch screens were endless. Multi touch screens allowed users to manipulate objects with their fingers with excellent response times.

The discovery of multi touch screen technology turned out to be of great importance to the smart phones and tablets we use today.


1990's - First Touch Phone

In 1993 IBM and BellSouth came up with the first phone with a touch screen interface - the Simon Personal Computer. Apple followed suit with their own version of touch screen telephony with the Newton touch sensitive PDA. Basically the first smartphones ever known.


2000's - Other Touch Screen Technologies

In the 2000's multiple companies started to really appreciate touch screen technology. Using E.A. Johnsons original capacitive touch screen technology, other touch technologies like Surface Acoustic Wave, Infra Red and Projected Capactive touch screens were invented. All carrying their own benefits and limitations.


All these technologies have had a great impact on the gadgets we use and take for granted daily. So thank you E.A. Johnson for bringing us touch screens.

7 Proven Benefits of Touch Screens and Touch Screen Technology


14-07-2017 - They can bring you a world of information and services at the touch of a finger. Touch screens are becoming increasingly common in devices we use every day.

One of the greatest benefits of touch screens is the intuitive interaction between user and device. For this reason manufacturers around the world are committing to touch technology.

Touching a device is becoming the new normal. The next generation often expects a device to work by touching or swiping the screen. Soon touch screen technology is the way we operate not only our smart phone but our cars and fridge too. We see more and more touch screen interfaces in car dashboardsHome thermostats and appliances use touch panels and smart watches pop up at warp speed.

The touch screen interface is becoming crucial for interacting with Internet of Things (IoT) data. And for using this data to your advantage. That is why we have put together a list of benefits of touch screens and touch technology.

Touch technology is already part of our present. And will 100% be a part of our future. But why do we love touch screens so much? How do they help us in every day life? Business and personal. Lets take a look at some of the best benefits of touch screens.


1. Speed

Touch screens help us operate any device faster. Think about the time it takes a user to locate a mouse, use a keyboard or trackball. How long it takes to coordinate to the right location on the screen. And activate whatever needs activating on the display. Ensuring a faster input means restaurant customers can be helped quicker. And customer service in hotels, cinemas and stores will be much more efficient. Your customers will be happier and more satisfied. Making them more loyal to your business. Faster input through a touch screen isn't just making customers happy. It can also help us be safer. Saving seconds when operating in-vehicle and security equipment can make all the difference.


2. Ease of Use

It has been proven that touch screens are intuitive in use. That is why using a touch screen in an application will help eliminate errors. Selecting the right button or menu item on a screen has never been easier. You just have to point at it. The on screen buttons can be as big as necessary. Ensuring all users can clearly see the buttons and know where to touch to select a function or feature. Touch screens require a lot less coordination from the user. A final benefit of touch screens that help the user is the ability to protect system content from unauthorized entry. Always making sure the right user gets to interact with the right content and information.


>> Discover How Touch Screens work <<


3. Everyone's an Expert in Touch

Pointing at something you want is an instinctive gesture. That is why touch screens have always been labeled as being intuitive. Where many people still don't feel confident enough to use a computer with a mouse and keyboard. But when it comes to touch applications, they don't seem to have this hesitation. Using a touch screen is as simple as pointing at the right location. A mouse and keyboard require some explanation and physical skills. Where a touch screen is instinctively understood. Users feel they can't do anything wrong when using a touch screen device and don't shy away from trying. Isn't that how we learn fastest? By trying? A touch screen makes every user an instant expert. Whether it's someone using a kiosk to print a boarding pass, a worker using industrial machinery, a nurse displaying the patient's information or a waiter taking an order. No experience is required to operate a touch screen.


4. Device size

One of the biggest benefits of touch screens is the fact they are usually all-in-one solutions. Touch monitors save space on desks as a mouse or keyboard is not needed. Integrating everything into the display helps save us valuable space. Another benefit is cords and wires can't get tangled, damaged or collect any dust. Integrating data entry with the display saves space in the final device.


5. Accessibility

Touch screens can also be of incredible value when accommodating users with physical limitations. A traditional display, mouse and keyboard set up might not work very well for these users. Senior users will probably have dificulty using the mouse and point it at the right location. Or have trouble reading the letters on a keyboard. Using a touch screen will help them operate the device directly, instead of through a tool. A stylus or other pointing device might make it even easier for users to use the display and will enhance the interface.


6. Durability + Easy to Clean

Different touch screen technologies offer different protective features. In general touch screens benefit from a durable quality. They are made of glass or a similar hard-coated surface. This makes them easy to clean and very suitable for use in restaurants, hospitals and other public environments. There are even touch screens that are specifically designed for use in harsh environments. They can even be installed outdoors as busstop or airport applications. A Projected Capacitive Touch Screen is such a rugged touch screen technology. These kind of touch screens are not affected by dirt, rain, grease or dust. Touch screens in general are very well adapted for public use and applications that require heavy usage. But in case you need something a bit tougher, there are many option to protect both your touch screen and the device underneath it.


Benefits of Touch Screens


7. Cost Reduction

Using a touch screen interface increases accuracy and reduces time to get used to the equipment. This will improve efficiency and will eventually keep costs down. Users of touch screen devices can respond quickly without making errors. Think about store cashiers being able to help more customers because of the intuitive qualities of the touch screen in the register. This will optimize check out speeds, keeping customers happy. This same intuitive quality will save money when it comes to training users. It simplifies processes and requires minimal training and instructing of end users.


We not only believe in the benefits of touch screens to consumers, but also to industrial applications. As this technology is becoming standard and intuitive for next generations, it almost forces manufacturers to integrate their products with a touch interface. If you won't, the competitor will.

4 Fun Touch Screen Facts

14-07-2017 - Touch screens come in all shapes, sizes and technologies. They are no longer a futuristic technology, but reality to the max.

Here are 4 fun facts about touch screens you probably didn't know.


1. Touch screens date back to the 1960's

Touch screens seem like a relatively new technology that entered mainstream use only a few years ago. But did you know touch screens have been around for decades?

The first signs of touch screen life can be found in the early 1960's when E.A. Johnson invented the first finger-driven touch screen. He published his invention in an article not realizing that over 50 years later we wouldn't be able to live without it.


Read what happened to touch screens after they were invented in the 1960's +


2. We can't imagine life without touch screens

It's hard to find an industry where touch screens are not a standard. Touch screens are literally everywhere. From the workplace to stores, restaurants, schools, hospitals and airplanes.

It's almost like we are expecting them to be there. Have you not caught yourself in front of display and swiping the screen with your finger and nothing happened?

We are so used to touch screen displays that our intuition tells us how to use them. Experts don't expect this touch screen trend will go away any time soon. So lets look forward to more touch screen applications that make our lives easier!


3. Touch screens measure our electrical charge

Yes, they do! Capacitive touch screens, one of the most used touch screen technologies used today, work by measuring the electrical charge in the toucher's body.

Actually, they rely on the electricity conducting qualities of the human body to work.

When you touch the surface of a capacitive touch screen it measure your electrical charge. You are in fact interrupting the electrical flow that runs along an X and Y grid on the touch screen. This change in flow triggers the input to be registered.


[Further Reading - 7 Proven Benefits of Touch Screens and Touch Screen Technology]


4. Touch screens are extremely intuitive

Put a tablet in front of a 2 year old and they quickly figure out how to work the screen and do what they want it to do. Amazing isn't it?

There is no special skill needed to work a touch screen. Where operating a regular computer mouse could take a bit of practice for new users, touch screens just require the ability to point and touch.

Multi touch technology is another innovative technology that has quickly become embedded into our lives. Small unclear image? Lets just 'pinch and zoom' to get a better view! It's an action we intuitively take in an attempt to see better.

Of course all the smartphones and tablets around us have had a great impact on the adaption of touch screens in our every day lives. But the intuitive qualities of a touch screen can also be credited for its success.

Touchscreen technology invented in East Tennessee

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Any time you use your smartphone, iPad, Nook, or any other device that has a touchscreen, that technology came from an Oak Ridge, Tennessee man.

If you're one of those people who can't imagine life without your smartphone, or have a hard time remembering how it was that the rotary phone works, you can thank an East Tennessee company called Elo Touch Solutions for leading the world in creating and developing touchscreen technology. And even though the invention of the smartphone helped put touchscreen technology in the palm of almost every person's hand, the invention of the touchscreen dates back well before the cell phone came along.

It was an Oak Ridge, Tennessee man named Dr. Samuel Hurst who invented one of the first touchscreen technologies in 1971.

"We were a pioneer in the earliest form of true touchscreen technology," Jason Ford with Elo Touch Solutions said.

The first model that the late Dr. Hurst invented looked nothing like touchscreens as we know them today. The machine he invented in the basement of his home was called the Elograph and was used to help calculate points on a graph by using an X-Y coordinate. The person using the touchscreen would place a piece of paper over the screen and touch the high and low points of the graph on the paper. The screen would then take the touch points and put them into a computer to calculate the plot points so the person didn't have to.

"This was developed in the early 70's," Ford said.

From there the touch technology got smaller and was placed into a glass screen. This was typically used in manufacturing environments to replaces levers and switches that would control machines.

"This type of operation was, in the 80's and 90's, used all over industry. Even though it wasn't used in like what we would think today in your phone, it's been out there for quite a long time," Ford explained.

After that, touchscreen technology advanced even more and became what we know it to be today and can be found in virtually any environment and for any application.

And it was Elo Touch Solutions that helped lead that charge.

"You go to Target, you go to Walmart, you go to the retailers, you use their kiosks, the ATM, that's going to have our technology inside of it. If you've ever touched a touchscreen, there's a 9 in 10 chance it's our touchscreen, even if it doesn't say Elo on it," Ford said.

So go ahead and touch your phone, your TV, or your navigation device in your car. And when you do, remember that it was the rest of the world that eventually caught up to East Tennessee.

Elo Touch Solutions is currently headquartered in Milpitas, California.

Do you want to quickly know the product quotation you need?