The Langley-St. Clair Soft-View Replacement CRT

written by Matthew Reed

Langley-St. Clair advertisement

Langley-St. Clair advertisement from December 1982

One frequent criticism of the TRS‑80 (especially the Model I) was the quality of the screen. Many complained of eyestrain and headaches after staring at the screen for a long time. Another frequent complaint was noticeable flicker, especially under poor lighting conditions.

One popular solution was the Soft-View replacement CRTs from Langley-St. Clair Instrumentation Systems, available for the Model I, Model III, Model 4, Model 4P, and Model 16. Their replacement CRTs used a slower-phosphor tube that was much easier on the eyes and virtually eliminated flicker. Here’s a quote from one of their advertisements:

Turn the brightness control on your TRS‑80 all the way up. Wave your hand up and down in front of the screen. See how jerky it seems? Just like in front of a strobe light! That’s because the screen actually is strobing at you. A slower-phosphor CRT will reduce that troublesome strobe effect. That’s why most of the newer monitors, from IBM to Apple III are using the same slow-phosphor CRT’s.

Langley-St. Clair advertisement

Langley-St. Clair advertisement from December 1983

The Soft-View CRTs were originally available in two colors:

  • Green: priced at $79.95 or $89.95 with an antiglare coating
  • Amber (also called orange): priced at $89.95 or $99.95 with an antiglare coating

Later on, they added two more colors:

  • Red: priced at $139.95 with an antiglare coating
  • Blue: priced at $139.95 with an antiglare coating

Langley St. Clair continued to advertise and sell the Soft-View CRT as late as 1986. Their later advertisements mentioned that the Soft-View was available for the “TRS‑80, TeleVideo, Kaypro, Heath, DEC, Zenith, IBM PC, Apple III, and a wide variety of other monitors.”

The one disadvantage of a slower phosphor was the faint trail left behind by moving objects, especially in fast moving games. But that was easy to adapt to and I think most people felt that it was a fair tradeoff for the superior comfort and picture quality.

Tandy used a slower-phosphor green tube in the Model 4D that was similar to the Soft-View and the difference is remarkable. I still consider that to be the most restful CRT screen I have ever used.

Categories: Hardware