In America, we tend to like to do things bigger and better. When it comes to our TV screens, there is no exception to this rule. In nearly every major city you’ll find a stadium, an arena, or heck- the side of a building that is lit up by what we commonly refer to as JumboTrons. These are large screens that were originally developed by Sony and have since been perfected by many of the world’s other great technology producers. While Sony owns the trademark JumboTron (and ceased selling them in 2001) there are newer and better solutions for the jumbo screen market.
JumboTron was made of up multiple modules. Each of these modules were composed of 16 or more small flood-gate CRTs (that’s cathode ray tubes- think old school computer monitors and TVs). Inside of the modules you could find 2 to 16 pixels, which were composed of green, red and blue phosphors. A very similar model was first demoed in 1985 at the Expo ’85 World’s Fair. The creative director Yasuo Kuroki is credited with the development of the first JumboTron. More recently though LED has become a growing trend, allowing big large screen makers to produce cheaper and longer lasting screens. In fact, it’s not at all uncommon these days for digital signage producers to put together signs made from a dozen or more small screens. This is both more cost effective and helpful in the event that a screen needs to be replaced. LEDs also last longer and are easier to work with because their weight is far less.
The largest JumboTron in the world is located in Texas at the Dallas Cowboys stadium. It is an eight sided (octagon.) Cowboys’ fans can view highlights and replays as well as other promotional material from nearly any angle within the stadium. It’s quite impressive. If you’re looking for the largest non-octagonal JumboTron then you’ll need to head northeast over to the Brave’s stadium, Turner Field, located in Atlanta Georgia. Meanwhile a few miles down the road in Marietta, Georgia you’ll find the largest large screen multi-monitor display in a high school. The name of the high school is Lassiter High School.
Up until a few years ago you could find a large JumboTron display in Tampa Florida at the Tampa Standium. Size-wise it was a whopping 30 feet (9 m). Unfortunately, one drawback to screen this large that used old technology is that the resolution is absolutely horrendous. For this screen it was 240×192 pixels. Fortunately, with newer technology (read: LEDs and multi-screen large displays) resolution is quite spectacular. The beauty of these multi-monitor systems is that they have a very small bezel, sometimes in millimeters, so it’s not noticeable to the untrained eye that they are actually multiple monitor systems. Bezel just means the inactive part of the screen that creates a border. If you were dealing with a few millimeter bezel though, it you wouldn’t notice any bezel at all unless you are extremely close to the monitor.
So where was the largest JumboTron ever? It was actually in Canada at the then called Skydom (it’s been renamed the Rogers Center), which is located in Toronto, Ontario. It measured 30 feet tall and 110 feet wide. This was an old system that was composed of CRT monitors as we discussed above. It cost around 17 million dollars to build. If you were to compare that display with a similar one today that is composed of LED screens you’d only spend around 3 millions dollars! If you take into account inflation that’s a HUGE difference! The above-mentioned JumboTron was torn down in 2005 when the stadium did a renovation. To date it hasn’t been matched.
Thanks to improving technology, jumbo monitors have become commonplace for business, sports teams, news networks, hotel chains, advertisers and trade show specialists. It’s not uncommon at all to see a multi-screen wall display at a trade show or in an office building because they no longer cost millions of dollars to design and implement. Sports teams use better resolution these days and often even give participants the ability to see what’s going on play-by-by with fantastic resolution. It’s clear that as technology continues to improve, and thanks to the use of multi-screen video walls, we’re only going to see more of these types of jumbo monitors popping up all over the place. It’s exciting to watch and I look forward to seeing what the engineers and architects of this technology are going to be able to come up with next. It’s clear that anything we can dream of can become a reality and it’s only going to get better.
It’s clear that as technology continues to improve, and thanks to the use of multi-screen video walls, we’re only going to see more of these types of jumbo monitors popping up all over the place. It’s exciting to watch and I look forward to seeing what the engineers and architects of this technology are going to be able to come up with next. It’s clear that anything we can dream of can become a reality and it’s only going to get better.