A Brief History of Projection Screens

We are currently working on an extensive history of projection screens. Simply because there’s nothing available at the moment. There’s only the recent developments.

Before we get that on-line let’s briefly look at the recent developments.

From humble beginnings in the 1950s to the advanced HDTV screens of today, the home theater projection screen has changed to meet the improved image quality available from modern projectors and high definition video. Let’s take a look at the history of projection screens to understand how their purpose and material has evolved over time.

Early Screens

The earliest home projection screens were relatively homogonous with one type of coarse screen that could be used in many different circumstances. They came into use in the 1950s with the first step towards today’s modern home theater systems, as middle class families were able to document their trips and celebrations on Kodak 8 mm film. All it took was a camera, reel to reel projector, and portable movie screen to have your own home theater in action. In addition, overhead projectors became popular in schools, as well as slide projectors for home, class, and work uses.

The portable projection screens used at this time were easy to move around a room or store. In addition, they were designed in the 4:3 aspect-format that you will recognize from a typical standard definition television. The exception to this rule could be found in the homes of wealth individuals who had their own screening room with a permanent theater style screen, and 16 mm or 35 mm commercial projectors.

Home Theaters Change

The advent of the VCR in the 1970s changed home theater and home movies to a point where portable projection screens were used primarily for work and educational purposes. There was still very little change in the design or shape of screens since they adequately met the needs of the projected images used at that time.

Modern Projection Screens

With the invention of high definition, modern home theater projection screens have needed to advance to truly display the clarity of image that comes from an HD projector. To begin with, the screens are formatted for 16:9, or widescreen format. These screens might be labeled HD projection screens, but that simply refers to the widescreen shape and not the image quality that can be displayed. To meet the higher image resolution in HD projectors the screens have been improved with smoother fabrics, which allow for the pictures to keep their clarity even when the image is displayed on a 100” screen.

This has been a brief look at the history of projection screens and their use in and out of the home. Today’s advanced HD projectors need a modern screen that has been designed to properly display the level of clarity possible with high definition projection.

For the full history of projection screens, from the cavemen to now, please go to www.projectionscreen.net/history

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