While working as the associate director of the Liquid Crystal Institute of Kent State University, in Kent, Ohio, James L. Fergason developed an improved liquid crystal display (LCD). Liquid crystal displays are commonly found in digital watches, calculators, and numerous other types of electronic devices.
An Austrian botanist, Frederich Reinitzer discovered liquid crystals in 1888, but it was not until 1968 that an inventor found use for these crystals. George Heilmeier created a liquid crystal display screen in 1968. Unfortunately, Heilmeier's invention required too much power to operate and failed to be durable enough for practical use. In 1969, Fergason developed his own liquid crystal display, using, what he termed, a "twisted nematic field effect." Fergason received a patent for his invention on December 14, 1971. In 1970 Fergason left Kent State University and formed the International Liquid Crystal Company. Fergason's company used his invention to create the first liquid crystal display watch in history. LCD is now an industry that generates over ten billion dollars per year.