Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Myth of the Fourth Screen

Filed under: News,Philosophy — Tom Pittman @ 11:42 am

Someone somewhere sometime said, (and a lot of people have said it since), that

  1. The first screen was the movie screen,
  2. The second screen was the television screen,
  3. The third screen was the computer screen, and
  4. The fourth screen belongs to portable digital devices such as telephones, PDAs and cameras.

Consequently, portable electronic devices are sometimes referred to as the “fourth screen.”

That sounded good to me, then I figured out that the emergence of screens might not have been so straight forward.

According to Wikipedia articles, the movie screen was born in the 1880s. However, “the origins of what would become today’s television system can be traced back to” 1873. Apparently, the television predates movies. Of course television wasn’t any kind of a commercial enterprise in 1873; if it were, then Regis Philbin would have been famous much sooner.

Meanwhile computer screens were in use pretty much parallel with television screens, it’s just that television screens were prominently placed in front of families in their homes, while the computers of the day (and their operators) were kept in back rooms well out of sight of mainstream modern culture. It wasn’t until computers started coming out of the closet (so to speak) that the public at large began to recognize the computer component of the screen age.

I could muddy murky waters more merely mentioning that the fourth screen could arguably be considered the first! Models of Kodak’s Box Brownie camera, as well as other early cameras, had viewer screens roughly the size of the screens of early digital cameras.

So let’s recap:

  • The “first screen” could have actually been the fourth,
  • The “second screen” probably tied with the third,
  • The “third screen” was tied with the second but people didn’t know it, and
  • The “fourth screen” was probably the first.

Is everyone clear on that now? šŸ˜‰

At any rate, whatever the order of the screens, welcome to the SCREEN AGE.

Speaking of the screen age, when are airlines going to get with the program and replace those “No Smoking” icons in airplanes with icons indicating it is not a time to be using theĀ  electronic devices we’ve brought on board with us?



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