Early Digital Dashboards
Electronic antiquity and light shows of yore
From light-emitting diodes and vacuum fluorescent displays to touch-screen cathode ray tube monitors, early digital instrumentation in cars can seem laughably crude by today’s standards. In their day, however, these devices imparted technological innovation, despite frequently offering little more and sometimes less functionality than their analog counterparts.
For the sake of posterity, here is a pictorial list of 60 dashboards from 1978 to the mid-1990s that made use of the sci-fi gadgetry. Their design and functionality range from simplistic to complicated.
Following the mid-1970s LED wrist watch fashion sensation (championed by the Hamilton Pulsar P2 2900, like the one on Roger Moore’s arm in the 1973 Bond film Live and Let Die), it did not take long for the solid-state electronic displays to make their way into cars.
While I strongly suspect the first examples were used for clocks and radios, I didn’t do extensive research to determine which car lays claim to having the first digital dashboard. I did, however, come up with 60 distinct early examples and there are no doubt many that I missed. I hope this brings back as many memories for you as it did for me.
1978 Cadillac Seville
1980 Lincoln Mark VI
1981 Chrysler LeBaron
1983 Datsun 280ZX
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