Thin film electroluminescence (EL) as exploited in display devices is discussed from the standpoint of a display user and a display technologist or engineer. An attempt is made to relate the characteristics of importance for displays to the electrical properties of the device and to the underlying physical processes or mechanisms. Particular emphasis is given to the widely used case of ZnS:Mn in a double-insulated sandwich structure. Some recent innovations relevant to display application are also described. © 1981.