Trivia

Hard

What Was The Name Of The First Laser Light Show Technology?

LightBeat
LaserTune
LazePop
Sonovision
The band Muse at the Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival 2011 in San Francisco.
Edward Betts/Wikimedia

Answer: Sonovision

Beginning in the late 1960s, artists began experimenting with laser beams as a form of expression in a variety of mediums such as laser holography exhibits, inclusion in theater performances, and as accompaniment to musical performances. The latter, music mated with laser light, would evolve into the complex and impressive laser displays put on by modern performers.

The earliest laser light shows were quite unsophisticated by modern standards, however. In 1968, Lloyd G. Cross filed a patent for the first laser light music device. He called the device Sonovision and the design was essentially a series of speakers with a reflective membrane stretched over them. Lasers of varying colors were bounced off of these membranes while the speakers were in use, which in turn splashed the laser light all over the backdrop on the stage.

While the Sonovision method produced some eye-catching effects and was more than novel for its day, it lacked any sort of precision—the results were akin to light reflecting off the surface of water. Fortunately, at the same time another Cross, Lowell Cross, was working on creating actual images and patterns using an X-Y axis generated by mirror galvanometers. Cross entered into a collaboration with artist and physics professor Carson D. Jeffries. They continued work on Cross’s projection system and ultimately showcased it as accompaniment to a music concert put on at Mills College in Oakland, California.

Lowell Cross’s method of preciously controlling laser light caught on and, despite not being the first commercial laser light show equipment around, set the precedent for future laser light gear and deployment.

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