Need Some Live Show Technology History Help Before March 4

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UPDATE March 15: I’ll be presenting this timeline at USITT and would like your feedback! Details here.

I’m on sabbatical this semester to work through some ideas I’ve been kicking around in my head for many years about the maturation of live show technology. While of course there is always room for additional innovation, it seems to me that--after a period of fairly rapid and intense development--we now have a large group of mature, well-known production technologies and techniques associated with those technologies. If you see the latest Taylor Swift stadium mega spectacular or a well-funded bar/bat mitzvah, on both shows you can see video walls, truss, chain motors, wireless mics, powered speakers, moving lights, lasers, etc, with all of it controlled by a number of more or less standardized computerized controllers (you might see the same console, in fact, on both events). That is a very different world than the one I graduated into from college in 1985, and also very different from our world early in my career when there were continual disruptive technological developments.

To establish and sequence trends, I’ve been working for too many hours on a fancy timeline which you can view here, (float over any event to see supporting details/products).

Note: Be sure and look at this on a large browser—it may not display properly on a phone.

I can’t possibly document the first ever usage of any particular technology, but instead what I’ve attempted to put on the chart is when a core, modern technology started appearing in the market, and tried to establish some point (somewhat arbitrary) where the technology became “mature”, and found in commonplace usage. There’s no way I know of to establish this exact date, but I want to get the general time where that acceptance point happened.


  • I’ve only included technologies that were introduced and continue to be used in some way or another; if something was cool but didn’t really succeed it’s not really important here.

  • I’m including live shows only (theme parks, films etc could be whole other time lines)

  • I’ve left out costumes/makeup because those areas seem separate (I could be wrong, let me know)

  • I’ll clean up the formatting when it’s done.

And here’s where I’d like to get your help:

  • What important technologies am I missing (again, to be included it has to be in widespread use today)? Please include product names dates/references if you have them.

  • What additional milestone shows (and why they are important) am I missing?

  • What dates do I have Incorrect and what am I missing? Please include any references you have.

Thanks! Please use the contact form below. I’ll close the timeline on March 4 at 9am.