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"We follow the scientists around and look over their shoulders. They're watching their feet: provable mistakes are bad for them. We're looking as far ahead as we can, and we don't get penalized for mistakes."
- Larry Niven

Visiplate  
  A flat screen for viewing remote images.  

This is an early reference to this term. As I recall, Buck Rogers movie shorts from the thirties used what appeared to be a vision plate. The earliest attempts to project images using radio waves used a spinning mechanical disk as a mask over a varying light source to produce the picture.

The first public demonstration of television occurred in England in 1926; by the mid-1930's, a few broadcast stations sent programming to a very small number of privately-owned sets.

Crane looked into the visiplate and gasped.
From Skylark Three, by E.E. 'Doc' Smith.
Published by Amazing Stories in 1930
Additional resources -

Here's another quote for this term from First Contact, a classic Murray Leinster short story:

He handed over the photographs and looked with professional interest at the visiplates which showed all space outside the ship...There was the little gadget of oddly angled mirrors - remote descendant of the back-view mirrors of twentieth century motorists - which allowed a view of all the visiplates without turning the head. And there were the huge plates which were so much more satisfactory for a direct view of space.

Leinster also used this term in earlier stories (mid-thirties), but I don't have a quote from those stories. Similar terms were used in the sf from this era.

Here's an enjoyable quote from Spore Trapper, a 1937 short story by RR Winterbotham:

The visiplate near the controls of the atomic engines glowed as he touched the contact button. A cloudy mist swirled as electrons took their places to reveal the wrinkled features of Isaac McDonald...

The earliest reference to a "vision screen" is the cinematophote, from E.M. Forster's prescient story The Machine Stops, published in 1909.

Now, of course, we actually have visiplates - that is, flat panel displays. And it only took sixty years for them to come into common usage

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Skylark Three
  More Ideas and Technology by E.E. 'Doc' Smith
  Tech news articles related to Skylark Three
  Tech news articles related to works by E.E. 'Doc' Smith

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