Wondering what on Earth particle physics research could have to do with the technology in your phone? Well, this is because the first transparent touchscreen was developed by Frank Beck and Bent Stumpe at CERN (the European Council for Nuclear Research) in the 1970s.

They were addressing the problem of having to make thousands of knobs and buttons for the computers in the CERN Computing Centre (CCC). All these knobs and buttons were needed to control and monitor the Super Proton Synchrotron (SPS), which was CERN’s main particle accelerator at the time.

Bent used a transparent mylar sheet with a very thin layer of copper to create a prototype screen with nine programmable buttons. The final configuration used in the CCC was installed in 1973 and comprised of three screens each with 16 buttons, and this remained in operation until 2008. This was when the control room was upgraded for the newly built Large Hadron Collider.