A VDU (Visual Display Unit) is an electronic device that displays text and images on a screen, typically used in conjunction with a computer. VDUs are the predecessors to modern computer monitors, and were used in early computer systems and terminals.

What does VDU mean?

VDU stands for Visual Display Unit. It is a display device primarily used to visualize information generated by a computer or other electronic device. The term ‘VDU’ emerged in the mid-1970s to describe the text-based display devices commonly used in early computer terminals. Modern usage of the term encompasses various display technologies, including cathode ray tubes (CRTs), liquid crystal displays (LCDs), and organic light-emitting diode (OLED) displays, found in various applications such as computer monitors, televisions, and mobile phones.

VDUs have evolved significantly since their inception, offering enhanced resolution, color accuracy, and response time. Advances in technology have enabled the integration of touch screens and other interactive features into VDUs, extending their capabilities beyond mere display. Modern VDUs are essential components in various electronic systems, providing a visual Interface for user interaction, communication, and data visualization.


VDUs play a critical role in various technological applications, including:

  1. Computer Monitors: VDUs are the primary means of displaying information in computer systems. They allow users to interact with software, View documents, and engage in Multimedia activities.

  2. Medical Imaging: VDUs are used in medical equipment to display patient data, such as X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs. They aid medical professionals in diagnosis, treatment planning, and patient monitoring.

  3. Industrial Control: VDUs are employed in industrial settings to provide real-time monitoring and control of processes. They enable operators to visualize data, adjust parameters, and respond promptly to events.

  4. Consumer Electronics: VDUs are prevalent in consumer electronics, such as televisions, smartphones, and gaming consoles. They offer high-quality visual experiences for entertainment, communication, and gaming.


The history of VDUs can be traced back to the early days of computing. In the late 1960s, teletype machines and Paper Tape punchers were commonly used for text-based interaction with computers. As computing capabilities expanded, the need for more versatile display devices emerged.

In the early 1970s, the first CRT-based VDUs were introduced. These devices utilized a cathode ray tube to generate images by directing an electron beam onto a phosphor-coated screen. CRT VDUs were initially monochrome but evolved to support color display.

The 1980s marked the introduction of LCD VDUs, which offered advantages in terms of portability, size, and power consumption. LCD VDUs became increasingly popular in laptops and portable electronic devices.

Advancements in technology in the 2000s led to the development of OLED VDUs. OLED displays provide superior image quality, including deeper blacks, wider color gamuts, and faster response times. OLED VDUs have become prevalent in high-end televisions, smartphones, and portable devices.