A Brief History of “Dark Mode”—From the Matrix-like Displays of the Early ’80s to Today

Now that “screen” is a metonym for all digital technology—“screen time” a shorthand for staring at anything that glows—it’s easy to forget that the earliest computers didn’t have screens at all. Instead, machines like IBM’s ENIAC proclaimed their functionality through punch-card printouts and flashing lights. The display for the first programmable computer, the Manchester Baby (first run in 1948), was powered by cathode ray tubes (CRT), a technology perfected in WWII for use in radars, in which electron guns target and illuminate phosphors behind a glass screen. Nascent CRT technology wasn’t efficient enough to illuminate an entire surface without burning

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