The history of the OLED TV | LG EXPERIENCE

Innovation is often thought of as an immediate breakthrough, but in many cases, groundbreaking developments are actually the culmination of years of work. But innovation is worth waiting for. It can truly change the customer experience, forever - sometimes even inspire the competition. That goes for every product from cars, financial products, smartphones and televisions.

The history of OLED

When it comes to innovation, patience and perseverance pay off. In LG’s experience, this has certainly been the case with its television technology - and its OLED panels in particular - where the company has become the market leader. 

OLED, in case you’re wondering, stands for ‘organic light-emitting diode.’ In simple terms, this means that every single pixel that makes up the picture illuminates. When the television is switched on, millions of thin, flexible and incredibly small diodes light up to create a viewing experience like no other. 

This technology, which LG has been refining for years, delivers an altogether superior picture than LED and LCD displays. With striking contrast that shows perfect blacks, realistic colors and the potential for flexibility and thinness beyond imagination, LG’s OLED TV is an example of persistent innovation at its finest.

OLED technology allows flexibility like no other, creating the possibility for a rollable TV | More at LG MAGAZINE
OLED technology allows flexibility like no other, creating the possibility for a rollable TV | More at LG MAGAZINE

1987: OLED technology is created

OLED isn’t a new technology; far from it. It first arrived on the scene in 1987, with Kodak developing it for their digital cameras. Little did anybody know that what Kodak had created would bring about so many exciting possibilities in the world of television.

2004: The first OLED TV

It wasn’t until the new millennium that electronics companies started to realise what OLED technology was really capable of. Sony, for example, released their first OLED TV in 2004, while Toshiba, Samsung and Panasonic also dabbled in OLED panels that had so much potential.

There were teething problems. The lifespan of OLED TVs was, back then, short. Cost was also an issue - brands found it difficult to develop an affordable OLED TV, with prices for an 11-inch screen averaging an eye-watering $2500. 

People clearly believed in the technology, but it needed perfecting. And this takes time. The old adage ‘if something’s really worth doing, it’s worth doing well’ couldn’t be more accurate.

2010: LG enters the market

Continuous innovation—this was the principle that guided LG. They kept the faith and in 2010 created the LG 15-inch 15EL9500 OLED TV. With a super flat screen and beautiful, sleek design, LG’s first OLED product was a success. On reflection, this was only just the beginning.

One of LG's first OLED TVs was released in 2010.
One of LG's first OLED TVs was released in 2010.

2012: A record-breaking OLED TV

LG continued to hone its OLED technology, committing time and resources into creating the very best entertainment solution in the world. In 2012, the first 55-inch OLED panel television was released by LG - the largest screen ever at this time. But even then, few knew that this innovation was shaping up to become the breakthrough TV technology.

2013: A new market-leader

One year on and a lot had changed. In 2013, Sony and Panasonic shut down their OLED partnership. They said the project didn’t deliver the growth they expected and they had feared that OLED televisions weren’t ‘commercially viable.’ 

While these brands returned to the drawing board, LG kept its nerve and invested more into the technology. Others hesitated, but LG stayed true to its commitment to making OLED a viable technology and bringing it into the market. In 2013 LG launched its OLED TVs which was quickly a hit in the television market. It was the beginning of what was to become “the best selling” success story.1

LG showcased OLED technology at IFA 2013.
LG showcased OLED technology at IFA 2013.

2015: A change of tack

Fast-forward two years. In 2015, Samsung, once an OLED competitor alongside LG, went in another direction. Concerns about the cost of investment in this technology led them to create their own brand, Q-LED. But while Q-LED is still part of the LCD family, displaying more vivid colours due to an added colour sheet, LG continued to lead the way in forming the truly innovative OLED technology.

2017: LG inspires others

Another two years down the road and LG, undeterred by Samsung’s change in strategy, reached another milestone. Persistence was rewarded, when in 2017, LG Display were providing Sony, Panasonic, Toshiba, Philips and Loewe with OLED panels for their TVs. 


2023: Breaking boundaries

Today, this game-changing technology continues to create endless possibilities in the television market, making the seemingly impossible, possible. For proof - the very first rollable TV has been released - only achievable because of the flexible nature of OLED technology. 

The story of OLED technology just goes to show that innovation isn’t so much about a Eureka moment, but a matter of patience, persistence and bold thinking. 


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1 Based on IHS Markit, Technology Group, TV Sets Market Tracker Q4 2017. Ranking is not an endorsement of LG. Any reliance on these results is at the third party’s own risk. See here.