Space ships in the Star Wars universe seem to have direct glass windows into space most of the time. To my mind, this has severe disadvantages compared to video screens showing the outside, at least as an alternative way, but do we ever see video-capable screens which could partially replace windows in the films?

Droids and other technology can display holograms, which appear monochrome and often not very clean, and there are text displays in places, but is there something like CRT or LCD color monitors?

  • Yavin base appears to have LCD or CRT as do the X-wing heads up and targeting computer displays – NKCampbell Oct 1 '16 at 16:11
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    @NKCampbell That sounds relevant, will you turn it into an answer? – Anaphory Oct 1 '16 at 16:29
  • "..severe disadvantages compared to video screens" ..why? Queen Armidala's space cruiser had transparent shields, and the conversation they were having when running the blockade of Naboo suggested if they lost it, they were screwed. Tie fighters and x-wings might have had shields, but if so, they were next to useless. Once a micrometeorite or blast from a blaster made it trough them, they would also have pierced the screen, the pilot's head, their head rest (you see where I'm going with that, right?).. Only seemed of relevance to large craft where the display could be redirected to a .. – Andrew Thompson Oct 1 '16 at 16:49
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    You're also making the (common) mistake of equating "transparent surface" with "glass". Just because it's a transparent pane doesn't mean it's fragile -- look at how the latest generation of smartphone screens can take a hammer blow without cracking. – Shadur Oct 2 '16 at 0:30
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    @Shadur compared to not having crewed spaces with a single surface between them and space, which is what any competently designed giant starship would do, viewports are still stupid even if they're made of something tougher than glass. – hobbs Oct 2 '16 at 5:13

All of these examples are from Episode 4: A New Hope

The X-Wing targeting computer has a CRT/LCD display


R2-D2 uploads the Death Star plans at Yavin Base and the output is displayed on a screen


The briefing details are displayed on a screen in Yavin Base


The Death Star itself has a timing / firing solution display

death star

  • I never noticed that the X-wing target computer seems to use Nixie tubes – Hagen von Eitzen Oct 2 '16 at 13:39

In a word, yes. In the Revenge of the Sith novelisation we learn that the windows behind the Supreme Chancellor aren't simple glass but rather a "view wall", capable of intelligently focusing and displaying what's happening thousands of kilometers away in realtime.

The vast semisphere of the view wall bloomed with battle. Sophisticated sensor algorithms compressed the combat that sprawled throughout the galactic capital’s orbit to a view the naked eye could enjoy: cruisers hundreds of kilometers apart, exchanging fire at near lightspeed, appeared to be practically hull-to-hull, joined by pulsing cables of flame. Turbolaser blasts became swift shafts of light that shattered into prismatic splinters against shields, or bloomed into miniature supernovae that swallowed ships whole. The invisible gnat-clouds of starfighter dogfights became a gleaming dance of shadowmoths at the end of Coruscant’s brief spring.

Within that immense curve of computer-filtered carnage, the only furnishing was one lone chair, centered in an expanse of empty floor. This was called the General’s Chair, just as this apartment atop the flagship’s conning spire was called the General’s Quarters.

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In the age that Star Wars is set, it's safe to say that materials and processes have been made/discovered that enable see-through panels on ships to be almost indestructible, and just as hard and durable as the rest of the ship (if not more so).

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    TLJ seems to contradict that. (and the "view walls"). in fact, that episode makes a great argument why the bridge should be buried deep within the ship. – ths Mar 14 '18 at 12:30

The targeting computer, and a few other displays in the original films, seem to be based on vector display CRTs (or designed to appear to look like them). Many of them (including some of the hologram stuff like the Death star plans) look vector-based to me, and when multiple images are drawn in quick succession the previous image is sometimes shown to slowly fade, or blur into the next. These are characteristics of the vector-based CRTs from the 1970s, though Star Wars technology seems to allow for multiple colours in some cases. The last well-known commercially available display (other than oscilloscopes) was possibly the Vectrex that was released in 1982. But even it did not have colour emitters. If you wanted colour you placed a translucent coloured panel on top of the screen. If any video game system ever made me feel like I was playing video games that might have come from a galaxy far far away it was on that machine. I suspect the images in Star Wars were simply a result of similar methods used in Tron (and later TV shows like Knight rider) where it was simply easiest to animate straight lines, but possibly jazz them up a bit by adding an oscilloscope-like glow to them to make them look more "science-y".

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    You seem to have missed the premise of the question. The question is asking why Star Wars spacecraft had windows in stead of displays that showed them the outside world. Your answer seems to go off on a tangent about CRTs and other unrelated topics (even if the question does contain the word "CRT". – Edlothiad Mar 14 '18 at 11:24

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