A monochrome monitor is a type of CRT computer monitor which was very common in the early days of computing, from the 1960s through the 1980s, before color monitors became popular. They are still widely used in applications such as computerized cash register systems, owing to the age of many registers. Green screen was the common name for a monochrome monitor using a green "P1" phosphor screen.
Abundant in the early-to-mid-1980s, they succeeded Teletype terminals and preceded color CRTs and later LCDs as the predominant visual output device for computers.
Unlike color monitors, which display text and graphics in multiple colors through the use of alternating-intensity red, green, and blue phosphors, monochrome monitors have only one color of phosphor (mono means "one", and chrome means "color"). All text and graphics are displayed in that color. Some monitors have the ability to vary the brightness of individual pixels, thereby creating the illusion of depth and color, exactly like a black-and-white television.
Typically, only a limited set of brightness levels was provided to save display memory which was very expensive in the '70s and '80s. Either normal/bright or normal/dim (1 bit) per character as in the VT100 or black/white per pixel in the Macintosh 128K or black, dark gray, light gray, white (2bit) per pixel like the NeXT MegaPixel Display.
Monochrome monitors are commonly available in three colors: if the P1 phosphor is used, the screen is green monochrome. If the P3 phosphor is used, the screen is amber monochrome. If the P4 phosphor is used, the screen is white monochrome (known as "paper white"); this is the same phosphor as used in early television sets. An amber screen was claimed to give improved ergonomics, specifically by reducing eye strain; this claim appears to have little scientific basis. However, the color amber is a softer light, and would be less disruptive to a user's circadian rhythm.