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It is shown that the amplitude of flattopped pulses needed to maintain repetitive interelectrode discharges in a discharge tube can be reduced by applying a similarly shaped voltage pulse of opposite polarity to an external metal sheet coplanar with the cathode of the discharge tube. An explanation of the effect, based on the relative timing and amplitude of the various voltage pulses applied to the discharge system, is advanced. It is also shown how the effect may be of significance in controlling gas discharge display panels.