The chances are that most people reading this blog post are doing so via a touchscreen, a ubiquitous part of modern life whether it be on phones, tablets, or supermarket checkouts. Though it is very much a 21st century phenomenon, the history of the touchscreen goes back decades, with Expo 1982 Knoxville being the venue for the first public showcase of this technology.
Themed “Energy Turns the World”, Specialised Expo 1982 was a hub of new digital technologies, but few could have predicted the success of George Samuel Hurts’ Accutouch, presented in the United States pavilion. The invention – a touch-sensitive panel installed on television screens – featured prominently in the pavilion, with visitors encouraged to try out the futuristic technology for themselves on one of the 33 available screens.
Accutouch was not the first ever touch-sensitive screen developed – a previous device had been conceived in the United Kingdom in the 1960s using a different type of technology. However, it was the ‘resistive’ technology presented at Expo 1982 – cheaper to produce and more practical – that was further developed, leading to its widespread adoption throughout the world.
The Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) is the intergovernmental organisation in charge of overseeing and regulating World Expos, Specialised Expos, Horticultural Expos and the Triennale di Milano.