Back in the 1980s, when everything went digital in the misplaced zeal that better living was always possible through technology, General Motors produced a touch screen cathode ray tube (CRT) that was in many ways the prototype for today’s infotainment systems. Called the Electronic Control Center (Buick Riviera and Reatta) or Visual Information Center (Oldsmobile Toronado), this mid/late-1980s option combined the climate control system, radio, and diagnostic functions all in one unit.
Business Insider recently revisited this option and quoted a surprising opinion, in particular one from a 1992 review by the Orlando Sentinel’s Richard Truett who wrote that “I have never seen anything like this in a car.” Sounds like neat gee-whiz technology, but if you read many of the buff books of the time, you’ll notice they took GM to task for creating a distraction that required several steps to change the radio station.
Eventually, both Buick and Oldsmobile abandoned their CRT systems and resorting back to the old-fashioned radio dials or even (gasp!) buttons − the latter continuing to confound drivers today. But as modern transportation has required GPS and other tech-laden options, the touch screen has made a comeback of sorts . . . with many of the same functionality issues as 25 years ago. This time, however, infotainment systems are likely here to stay, and it seems they are much more ergonomic than what GM had in the past.
Take a look at the below video of MotorWeek’s test of the 1990 Oldsmobile Toronado Trofeo.