Exploring the History of The JumboTron Screen

When it comes to huge sports arenas, grand live performance concerts, corporate events, or worship centers, Jumbotrons continue to be the viewers’ eye magnet! This article breaks down the history of the Jumbotron starting from its invention, technological development, and applications. 

What Is a JumboTron?

Also referred to as a Jumbovision, Jumbotron is a combination of two words: “Jumbo” which means large, and “Tron” which refers to electronics. It was SONY’s brand name of their initial large video screen which they unveiled in 1985.

However, Jumbotron currently refers to the use of television technology to broadcast or display videos on massive screens targeting multiple viewers. 

So, any large TV screen either for outdoor displays like concerts or sports, or indoor presentations and entertainment qualifies to be a jumbotron. Smaller versions are called mini jumbotrons.

History of the JumboTron – Invention, Technologies,& Applications

The invention of the Jumbotron or the “grand” TV, is a grand battle between two Japanese giants: Mitsubishi Electric and SONY. Each claims to be the real jumbotron inventor. The third notable participant in Jumbotron’s technological journey was Panasonic with their Fluorescent Discharge Tubes.

Now, who among them started the battle, and who landed the knockout punch on viewer’s faces? After going through the Jumbotron history, you will be a better judge!

Jumbotron History 1980s – Mitsubishi Electric

The earlier development of large-screen TVs or displays was driven by Mitsubishi Electric. By 1980 they had developed the first large video board going with the brand name Diamond Vision. 

To demonstrate their success, they installed what was referred to as the largest screen in the world at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. Its purpose was to display scores in the Major League Baseball Game.

How Early Jumbotrons Worked – Which Display Technology Was Used?

For their screen display, Mitsubishi Electric adopted cathode-ray tube technology which was already being used on standard TVs. 

Later, as technology evolved, chip-type LEDs took the new display stage to achieve wider viewing angles

Jumbotron History – 1985 – SONY Invention

VideoOne – Times Square’s 1st Video Screen

5 years after Mitsubishi Electric unveiled their large screen display, SONY successfully developed the world’s largest video board which they branded “Jumbo Tron”. 

The presentation of this massive screen was in 1985 at World’s Fare in Tsukuba City, Japan. The large TV screen measured 40 Meters X 25 meters( 131 X 82  feet  ). Its development cost USD 16 million.

Later in 1990, Sony installed their jumboTron screen at Time Squares. The large screen which had become the city’s landmark was mainly used for news flash and advertisements. 

Who Developed JumboTron?

Behind the development of this new large-screen innovation was Yasuo Kuroki, one of SONY’s top designers.  At the time, he was already wearing another cup as the brain behind the development of Walkman.

The JumboTron History – Which Display Technology Was Used?

The Jumbotron

In their new “JumboTron” display, SONY did not rely on the older cathode ray technology. Instead, they adopted their processor-based display technology called Trini-lite. 

The first jumbotron had a resolution of 450,000 pixels enhancing the clarity of large displays. This was similar to the resolution of standard TVs at that time. What’s more, the technology also allowed for computer control of displays. 

Later, other low-resolution jumbotrons were developed to suit different location requirements.

Driven by the new technology, SONY’s development of mobile screens gained popularity in concert venues in the 90s.  SONY installed their first Jumbotron screen in Times Square in 1996 where it stayed for up to 6 years. 

The Jumbotron History – Changes In Display Technology

During the early years of the Jumbotron, white-light-producing LEDs were still not available to facilitate full-color screen display. 

Again, during that time, blue LEDs were also unavailable. So, getting perfect display colors on screens was still a major challenge.

Therefore, the early jumbotrons, like the TVs of that period, relied on cathode ray technology to display images. Compared to current displays, video images in the early jumbotrons were of low quality as high resolutions could not be achieved.

It was after SONY developed their first LED display TVs in 2004 that the technology progressed rapidly. This led to the development of modern LED display jumbotrons and mini jumbotrons in different sizes to suit different viewership requirements.

The History of JumboTron – Applications

During their early stages of development, you would find jumbotrons mainly used to compute and display scores at sports venues to keep all fans and viewers informed.  Advertisers or sports sponsors allowed it to promote their products.

However, as technology continued to develop, modern jumbotrons came with richer features for enhanced viewers’ experience. For instance, at live sports venues, fans can now view replays. Because of their integration with social media, viewers can now interact with video displays during live events.

Further, for those who need to enhance their viewing experience at home, mini jumbotrons are now available to suit your individual or corporate needs. These can serve as promotion screens or for sharing vital information at designated public places such as airports among other applications.


While Mitsubishi Electric pioneered a large-screen display, SONY’s innovation in the development of the Jumbotron is vividly evident. 

The use of Jumbotron screens in major stadiums, concert venues, and as an advertisement platform continues to grow. Currently, you have an option for mini jumbotrons that are perfect for your home, game rooms, or  outdoor displays   

The evolution of the jumbotron is no doubt a manifestation of how evolving technologies have continued to enhance how audiences experience live events. It has also enabled advertisers to reach wider audiences like never before. With the display technology advancing, jumbotrons will continue evolving for the better.

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