Kimiko Kidd
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Buick to the Future: The First Touch Screen Infotainment System

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Touch screens and infotainment systems probably seem like relatively recent automotive innovations — but Buick first integrated them back when the NES was a cutting-edge game console and Top Gun was playing in theaters.

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That’s right — in 1986, the Buick Riviera became the first production car to have a touch screen and infotainment system. Every Riviera came with a 9-inch touch screen, equipped with the Graphic Control Center infotainment system. Of course, the GCC’s green-and-black display is downright quaint nowadays, but back then it seemed like a little bit of utopian futurism right in your vehicle. Here’s a look at the system in action.

The advertisements bragged that the GCC replaced 91 dashboard controls — a sales pitch still used for infotainment systems today. For instance, drivers could use it to view fuel economy information, check the gas levels, adjust climate control settings, change the radio station, and crank up the volume — so you could hear then-current hits like “Rock Me Amadeus” loud and clear.

Ahead of its time

Later, the GCC offered an electronic compass, a cell phone directory, an in-car phone, and a multi-color display. This snazzy tech even found its way onto the more luxurious Buick Reatta and select Oldsmobile models.

Of course, some drivers had a beef with the new technology. For starters, it beeped loudly every time registered a command, and some drivers found the touch screen distracting. It seemed the world just wasn’t ready for touch screens in cars, and the feature was virtually extinct by the 1990s.

Nowadays, GPS systems, rear-view cameras, and smartphone integration brought touch screens back into the dashboard, and this time, it seems they’re here to stay.

Still, the 1986 Buick Riviera is a fun bit of automotive history. Only time will tell if the 1986 Riviera will attract a horde of dedicated enthusiasts, like some of Buick’s other nostalgic models.

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Source: Digital Trends