The story of Lucjan Barton’s success on the other side of the Atlantic could one day become the inspiration for a Hollywood movie to be shown on all kinds of screens, including liquid crystal ones. The Polish inventor led a team that developed a technology for using LCD displays in various devices.
The road to Lucjan Barton’s professional success was extremely long and bumpy, and he often had to overcome hurdles that life threw at him. Before he was given a chance to develop and show everyone his skills and knowledge, he made a true odyssey that took him nearly around the world.
Growing up too early
Lucjan Bartoszewicz was born in Vilnius in 1921. Shortly after reaching adulthood, he was faced with a tragedy. After the Soviet invasion of Poland, he was sent to Siberia, close to the town of Vorkuta. An amnesty granted under the Sikorski-Majski treaty in July 1941 gave him hope of escaping the Siberian taiga. Those who survived and were hoping to return to their homeland found themselves in places where General Władysław Anders’s Army was being formed. Lucjan Bartoszewicz was one of them and was enlisted.
Together with the army he walked the whole combat trail and ended up in Italy, where he took part in the Battle of Monte Cassino. After the war ended he remained in Italy, where he studied and got married. However, in 1951 he decided to go to the United States and changed his surname to Barton.
The American dream
Four years after his arrival in America, he was hired by the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) laboratories in Princeton, New Jersey. He carried out research into photoconductors and television kinescopes. The 1960s saw a breakthrough in Lucjan Barton’s career as he was appointed to join a team working on the use of liquid crystals (nematic substances). The team, which was headed by the Polish inventor, was investigating the possibility of lowering the melting point of known nematics by adding small amounts of organic substances to them. Thanks to their work, in 1969 the RCA was able to show the world the first devices equipped with an LCD display – an electronic clock and a small flat display.
The age of thin screens
Initially, liquid crystal screen technology was only used in small devices. However, over time, it became an indispensable component in the production of laptop screens and television sets, whose size and quality have rapidly evolved in recent years due to technological advances. In contrast to the bulky versions of the past, today we have flat TVs whose enormous screens are so thin that not even a cat can balance on their edges for long.
Lucjan Barton’s discovery not only revolutionized the electronics industry, but also had a significant impact on contemporary interior design fashion. Today, flat screen TVs hang on walls as if they were paintings and we, with a child-like curiosity, are able to see the world, watch the latest film productions, and experience sports successes and failures, all while enjoying exceptional image quality.
Lucjan Barton invented LCD screens and for several decades witnessed the development of his invention. He died in 2009 in Chartottesville, Virginia.
- Łotysz, Polscy wynalazcy. Sylwetki 100 najznakomitszych polskich wynalazców [Polish inventors. Biographies of the top 100 Polish inventors], Pub. Dragon, Bielsko Biała 2018
- J.A. Castellano, Liquid gold. The story of liquid crystal displays and the creation of an industry, Pub. World Scientific, London 2005