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PNG images: Monitor

A computer monitor is an output device which displays the information in pictorial form. A monitor usually comprises the display device, circuitry, casing, and power supply. The display device in modern monitors is typically a thin film transistor liquid crystal display (TFT-LCD) with LED backlighting having replaced cold-cathode fluorescent lamp (CCFL) backlighting. Older monitors used a cathode ray tube (CRT). Monitors are connected to the computer via VGA, Digital Visual Interface (DVI), HDMI, DisplayPort, Thunderbolt, low-voltage differential signaling (LVDS) or other proprietary connectors and signals.

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Originally, computer monitors were used for data processing while television receivers were used for entertainment. From the 1980s onwards, computers (and their monitors) have been used for both data processing and entertainment, while televisions have implemented some computer functionality. The common aspect ratio of televisions, and computer monitors, has changed from 4:3 to 16:10, to 16:9.

Early electronic computers were fitted with a panel of light bulbs where the state of each particular bulb would indicate the on/off state of a particular register bit inside the computer. This allowed the engineers operating the computer to monitor the internal state of the machine, so this panel of lights came to be known as the 'monitor'. As early monitors were only capable of displaying a very limited amount of information, and were very transient, they were rarely considered for program output. Instead, a line printer was the primary output device, while the monitor was limited to keeping track of the program's operation.

As technology developed engineers realised that the output of a CRT display was more flexible than a panel of light bulbs and eventually, by giving control of what was displayed to the program itself, the monitor itself became a powerful output device in its own right.

Computer monitors were formerly known as visual display units (VDU), but this term had mostly fallen out of use by the 1990s.