Vintage Lighting Question about the history of consoles

Max Wurtz

New Member
May 4, 2016
I caught some of a Queen concert on TV and I was amazed with the caliber of the lighting rig and was intrigued how that could be done in 1981. So my questions are, what kind of console would they have been running, how much would have been manual over programming? Just a Friday evening quandary so any information would be appreciated.


Resident Curmudgeon
Senior Team
Premium Member
Aug 21, 2007
Las Vegas, NV, USA
The console would have been an Alderham Showboard

or Electronics Rockboard,

or possibly an Avolites

or Celco.

All all/were two- or three-scene preset consoles, with additional independents/submasters and a rudimentary chase matrix, programmed with battleship pins. And lots of flash buttons, bump buttons, ADD/SWOP buttons.

Some of our more Jobsian-Wozniakian members even built their own in their garage.
Not that hard. Below is a picture of an analog board I built back in the 80's (top flipped open.) 48 channels, 3 scenes, 10 pin matrix scenes, 10 matrixed chase scenes, 50x50 pin matrix output for channel/dimmer assignment. One would only have to take it one step farther with an A/D converter to take the 0-10 to DMX. The only hard part was to calculate voltage drop on the diodes, which changes with temperature. My answer was to design a regulated supply that used a stack of the same diodes to that the temperature effect was canceled out. Lot of metal and woodwork (hardest part.)

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Well-Known Member
Sep 18, 2009
Spokane, WA the great "Inland Northwest"
About 1978 the University of Washington had it's first electronic memory console in Meany Hall, the big stage on campus. I never ran it, but my best friend called it "Hal's dumber brother." I don't recall the brand.

It used hand wound inductors to store digital data of cues. One issues was that every record function lowered all the levels 1/4 point. So after a tech rehearsal all cues were re-recorded a full point higher.

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