A Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) shoots electrons from an electron tube at the back to an energy sensitive florescent screen at the front, where they smash, creating dots for the picture. The trajectory needs to be very precise, otherwise the dots will not be created where they are meant to be, and the picture will be blurry. Therefore, putting anything in the way of the electron’s path is a bad thing, so a vacuum is used.
By-the-way, a CRT is a highly refined device that uses and exceptionally dangerous coating that can kill, even in the smallest amount. That’s why the tubes are made of such strong glass. An angry viewer throwing something at the screen and breaking it could easily kill himself!
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