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This 1980s General Motors touchscreen was decades ahead of its time

Almost as good as Kit.

PastedImage-86496 Source: That Hartford Guy via Flickr

TOUCHSCREEN INFOTAINMENT SYSTEMS are all the rage these days.

For most drivers, the idea of a touchscreen that controls all of a car’s functions is ‘sci-fi’ that only recently became reality.

However, in 1989 General Motors equipped its Oldsmobile Toronado Trofeo with a touchscreen system that was decades ahead of its time. Called the Visual Information Center (VIC), the touchscreen gave the driver access to everything from the radio to engine management data.

PastedImage-86226 Source: Alden Jewell via Flicker

This must have been mind blowing for drivers a quarter of a century ago. In a 1992 review, the Orlando Sentinel’s Richard Truett was astonished, writing ”I have never seen this in a car.”

In a 1990 video review of the Oldsmobile Trofeo by MotorWeek, the VIC’s glorious capabilities were on full display.

First, the $1,300 option controlled the car’s radio and optional CD player:


Then the reviewer adjusted the car’s climate control using the touchscreen:


The Visual Information Centre gave the driver access to a slew of diagnostic information:


Amazingly the the VIC even had a “Navigation” function. Unfortunately, in the era before GPS, the screen only provides access…to a compass.


To top it all off, for another $999, buyers of the Trofeo could get an in-car telephone controlled through the VIC.


As wonderful as the VIC was in its day, the system’s user interface and user-friendliness can’t compare to the infotainment systems of today.

However, for a piece of hardware that’s at least 25 years old, the overall presentation and functionality is remarkable. Considering some of the dashboards in GM cars over the past two decades, we have to ask, “Where the heck was this awesome piece of tech all of these years?”

(For the record, GM shut down Oldsmobile in 2004.)

Here’s the full MotorWeek review of the 1990 Oldsmobile Toronado Trofeo:

Source: moteursemaine81/YouTube

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Published with permission from:

Business Insider
Business Insider is a business site with strong financial, media and tech focus.

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