Split-flap displays, also known as flip-disc or flip-dot displays, are a type of electromechanical display that was widely used in the mid-20th century. These displays use a series of small metal flaps, which are flipped to reveal different letters or numbers, creating a scrolling display.
The history of split-flap displays can be traced back to the early 20th century, when early versions of the technology were used in railway stations and airports to display train and flight schedules. However, it wasn't until the 1950s and 1960s that split-flap displays became widely used in commercial applications, such as stock ticker displays and digital clocks.
Split-flap displays were popular for several reasons. They were reliable, durable, and easy to read, and they could be used in a variety of applications. They also had a distinctive sound, as the flaps flipped to reveal the letters or numbers, creating a rhythmic clicking sound.
However, split-flap displays began to decline in popularity in the 1980s, as digital displays became more common. Digital displays were more versatile and flexible, and they could display more complex information than split-flap displays.
Despite their decline in popularity, split-flap displays have continued to be used in a variety of applications. They are still used in some railway stations and airports, and they have even been used in art installations and as decorative elements in interior design.
In recent years, split-flap displays have experienced a resurgence of interest, particularly in the maker and DIY communities. With the rise of the maker movement and the increasing availability of electronics and programming tools, split-flap displays have become a popular DIY project, allowing enthusiasts to create their own custom displays and designs.
In conclusion, the history of split-flap displays is a fascinating story of innovation and technology. While these displays may no longer be as popular as they once were, they continue to be appreciated for their distinctive design and nostalgic appeal. The enduring popularity of split-flap displays is a testament to their enduring appeal and their place in the history of timekeeping and display technology.