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Advertising screens and digital signage are now part of our daily lives and even more so in big cities. The use of these tools has indeed accelerated in recent years. Above all, it has diversified. Grant SMD Screens, LCD monitors, touchpads, and totems are all tools that today are used for communication by professionals. However, the dynamic display is not new. It is indeed the result of nearly a century of development.


The origin of digital signage dates back well before digital and screens. The first traces of digital signage date back to the 1920s in Times Square. At the time, mobile plates dressed in light bulbs were used to announce the latest news to passers-by. This was nearly half a century before Times Square became the benchmark for dynamic displays on giant SMD Screens. In reality, the development of dynamic displays is closely linked to that of the sign. As soon as it became more modern, it became necessary to find solutions to better stand out and attract customers.

The appearance of animated text panels

A few years later, mechanical programming allowed a new leap forward in display solutions. In the 1940s, “ disc weather vanes ” systems made their appearance. These are animated panels using small pivoting discs with two-tone faces that allow you to recreate letters or numbers. They then become common in transport to announce the timetables and the destination. These systems are still visible and used today, particularly in the field of sport on scoreboards and timings. However, they are becoming increasingly rare and tend to be replaced by digital.

The dynamic display then continued to evolve by borrowing advances from other fields, such as cinema, lighting, or signage. We then integrate one of the engines or for the first the variation of light to animate the messages. We find, for example, the “split-flaps” system, more complex development of pellet weather vanes and used in station displays (image 1 below).

Then signs with flashing bulbs (evolution of illuminated signs) attract more attention and allow you to highlight or not this or that message. This solution is still widely used today, such as for fairground attractions or stands, for example. Finally, this period marks the birth of the famous Trivision panels allowing the alternation of static messages.

Development of new mechanical formats

In the 1960s, a company called Walt Disney Engineering gave new impetus to mechanical animation, thanks to the creation of audio-animatronics. They thus integrate a sound dimension into the animatronics. Thanks to these tools, the dynamic display then becomes three-dimensional with the use of robotic elements. However, in the 80s the mechanical approach to dynamic display tended to disappear for new solutions. The sprint towards large format is growing and the beginnings of the digital revolution are being felt.

However, in the 80s, despite the many advances observed, the mechanical approach to dynamic display tended to disappear. Indeed, new solutions are emerging and still borrowed from the world of cinema and television. This is the appearance of screens in a dynamic display. These new display tools will have a very great power of attraction and develop in all forms until they end up in our pockets. Boosted by the digital revolution, the screen, and large format sprint has begun.


In parallel with this mechanical evolution of dynamic display, we are also witnessing the birth and development of screens. Indeed, the “cinematograph” of the Lumière brothers allowed the projection of animated images from 1895.

It was at this same time that the first cathode-ray screen was invented allowing image broadcasting. Later in the 1920s, this system was offered to the general public, accompanied by the broadcast of the first television broadcast. This system will then develop and be used for many more years. It will be found until the 2020s as SMD Screens.

read more: The Technological Education

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