A touchscreen is an input and output device typically stacked on top of an electronic visual display of an information processing system. The user can interact with the information processing system by making single or multiple touch motions on the screen with their fingers or a special stylus. Some touchscreens can only be used with a specific stylus or pen, while others may only function with specially coded gloves. In the present technology, we use our fingers to operate a touchscreen.

History of the Touchscreen

According to historians, E.A. Jhonson developed the first capacitive touch screen at the Royal Radar Establishment in Malvern, United Kingdom, between 1965 and 1967. In an article published in 1968, the inventor delivered a thorough explanation of touch screen technology for air traffic management.

Touch Sensors

A touch sensor was invented in 1971 when Doctor Sam Hurst (founder of Elographics) faced the difficult task of reading a large amount of data from a strip chart while teaching at the University of Kentucky. He acknowledged that it would typically take his students at least two months to complete this work. The realization led to the invention of the touch screen in 1971. He chose to work on a method with a simple approach and he came up with a technology called an Elograph (electronic graphics) coordinate measurement system. It was an input tablet that could detect where the user was pressing a stylus. Later on, after three years of research and development, Dr. Sam Hurst and his team made a transparent version that could sit over a screen for years. Later in 1977, they came up with what was to become the most popular touchscreen technology, which we are using today.

The IBM Simon

IBM introduced the IBM Simon, the first touchscreen phone in the world, in 1992 using the same technology. The PDA personal digital assistant features were for the first time integrated into a smartphone, called Simon. BellSouth Corporation, an American telecommunication holding company with headquarters in Atlanta, significantly improved it and began marketing it to customers in 1994. It was introduced as Simon Personal Communicator at its introduction. Simon was able to send emails, faxes, and texts in addition to receiving and making phone calls. A calendar, calculator, global clock, electronic notepad, address book, and other highly practical applications were also included.

Types of Touchscreens

There are various types of touchscreen technology, but the two major ones are:

1. Capacitive Touchscreen

The touchscreen displays on modern smartphones, computers, and tablets use capacitive touchscreen technology. It is the typical one. Multiple layers of glass and plastic coated with a conductor substance, including chemicals such as indium, tin oxide, or copper, make up capacitive screens.

2. Resistive Touchscreen

A resistive touch screen consists of a touch layer placed on top of a standard display. Two translucent electrical layers are separated by a small gap that typically makes up the touch layer. During pressing, the two different layers of the display come into contact and form an electrical connection that can be detected and located.

Capacitive vs. Resistive

Compared to resistive touch panels, capacitive touch screens typically appear brighter, clearer, and significantly more responsive. Capacitive touch screens are typically used in more recent technologies like smartphones and tablets. They let us view real-world-like visuals of the highest quality. Because resistive screens have deep layers of blue and yellow hue that give the impression that their interface is darker than capacitive screens, they are not as bright as capacitive screens. Resistive screens are frequently used on ATMs, cash registers, and POS (point of sale) terminals. They often have a considerably harder plastic outer layer, which makes them far more inexpensive and durable than capacitive panels. Each screen has advantages and disadvantages that make it a better option for particular uses. Resistive screens are limited in their ability to register numerous touches at once, whereas capacitive panels can. Consider how you use two fingers at distinct receptors to zoom in on an image when using your smartphone. When you try to apply numerous points to a resistive touch screen, they become confused because their technology only recognizes pressure in one single area.

How It Functions

When another electrical conductor, such as your naked finger, makes touch with the conductive material, it reacts. When you touch your screen, a circuit is closed electrically at the area where your finger makes contact, altering the electrical charge there. Your gadget records this information as a “touch event.” As the name implies, resistive touch screens provide resistance to touch. On top of a layer of glass or hard plastic is a resistive metallic layer that conducts charge. When you press firmly on the plastic protective layer, the two layers come into contact, causing the electric charge to change and the software to activate. The two layers are separated by screen spacers. Once a touch event has been registered, the screen’s receptors signal this event to the operating system, prompting a response from your device. This is the application’s interface that you experience. What touch displays detect differs depending on if the screen is capacitive or resistive. Resistive screens rely on applied pressure which means that sometimes the tip of a pen or another object can initiate a response from the system. Capacitive touch screens use electrical conductors rather than pressure to recognize a command and respond.


Touchscreen technology is a significant innovation that has revolutionized the computer industry, allowing computers to become portable devices such as tablets and smartphones that anyone can use. Touchscreen technology has altered our interactions with both machines and computers. Touchscreen technology has made machines more user-friendly. They eliminate physical buttons, make computers and machines more functional and enjoyable to interact with, and integrate more technology into our daily lives. Touchscreen technology also allows us to humanize devices by lowering the barrier between the user and the device. While this integration appears to be beneficial on the surface, we must also consider the negative social consequences of making devices more human friendly objects. This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional. © 2022 S Saleha

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