Sunday, 4 July 2004

Design fault

Having just acquired a nice TFT monitor which can be turned so that the short side is at the top, it has occurred to me that a huge mistake which was made forty years ago has been causing us much inconvenience ever since.

I suppose the very early cathode ray tubes were circular and later squarish, which was fine for the fuzzy sine curves which was all they had to display. But television sets had established themselves with landscape monitors, and when word processing and spreadsheets came along it didn't occur to anyone that these things are much better suited to portrait format since they are developments of things that we used to write. Whether it was double quad crown, elephant, foolscap octavo, papyrus, Tsai Ko-Shi* or A4, we have been writing mostly on stuff held short side up since the dawn of time.

So nearly all of what we do calls for a portrait screen, and for decades we have been using monitors which are the wrong way round because the designers of PCs hadn't thought of this.

* Need I remind everyone that this, invented in 105 AD by the Han emperor Ho-Ti's chief eunuch T'sai Lun, was the origin of our paper?

No comments: