Sony Trinitron Television

On April 15, 1968 Sony held a press conference in Japan to announce a new type of television, the Trinitron. The research team had just finished hand building ten prototypes, so they were shocked to hear Sony executives promising the TV would be in full production in less than six months! The very first Trinitron, the KV-1310, was in stores in October. A year later Trinitron came to the United States.

Trinitron is a compound name derived from "trinity," referring to the three colors used in a single electron gun, and "tron" from electron tube. The Trinitron prototypes' "aperture grilles" had narrow vertical stripes photo-etched onto a thin metal plate that was stretched over a frame behind the screen (other TVs use a shadow mask that sits just behind the phosphor layer to focus the image on the screen.). The aperture grille was used in every Trinitron TV.

Four engineers, lead by Masaru Ibuka, Susumu Yoshida, Senri Miyaoka, and Akio Ohgoshi spearheaded the project that generated sales of 280 million Trinitrons worldwide, and Trinitron sales dominated the U.S. television market for decades. Beyond the phenomenal sales numbers Trinitron established Sony's reputation in the U.S. as a company known for innovative technology (Sony won a technical Emmy Award for the Trinitron in 1973). It's hard to imagine Sony's success without Trinitron.

Sony produced a vast number of models, including professional Trinitron studio monitors like the PVM (Pro Video Monitor) and BVM (Broadcast Video Monitor). The pro Trinitrons were expensive, big and very heavy, but they're still prized for their superior black levels, color accuracy, and contrast ratios, compared with the best LCD and plasmas. Trinitron was strictly a CRT technology, and the mainstream market wanted flat panel displays, so worldwide Trinitron production shut down in 2007.

Thanks go out to Sony's Rob Manfredo for his help in preparing this report.

Click herefor more on the first Trinitron.

K.Reid's picture

Great article, Steve. CRT technology still retains advantages over modern displays (e.g. superior black levels, wide viewing angles). Bigger screen sizes inevitably led to more weight and ultimately the CRTs downfall against "thin is in" plasmas and LCD. The Sony Trinitron XBR series were phenomenal products. I still own one of last of the truly great ones - The Sony KD-34XBR960.

I only wish Toshiba/Canon could have got their acts together and gave us a superior SED flat panel. Here's hoping for OLED.

hiptech's picture

Retro TV... my first color TV as a lad, 1972 Sony 17" Trinitron. What a great set, kept it till around 1991 until I gave it away.

It worked flawlessly the entire time, never an issue. When Sony used to build quality products. While the picture on our Samsung UN55B8500 (2010) sure is prettier, my bet is it won't last near as long.

BTW, thanks Scott to you and Leo for recommending it! Can't wait to hook it up to an AV receiver... soon. Just ordered (today) the Onkyo TX-NR818 replacing an aging (but still working) Onkyo TX-SV90Pro (1991).