This paper describes the evolution of the IBM 581 a c plasma panel display. A general overview of plasma technology and the requirement for a large screen display is followed by a description of the 581 hardware architecture. Considerations which must be met for a successful high yield, high volume fabrication process are covered and the manufacturing process itself is outlined. Test results are given which show the plasma panel to operate reliably for over 350 000 hours. Changes which occur to the panel during operation are described. Finally, the presentation and updating of data displayed on the IBM 3290 terminal, which uses the 581 display, are discussed which take account of the special properties of the a c plasma display. © 1984.