High End Systems – The Blackstone Audio Days


Have you ever heard of Blackstone Audio?  JimOnLight reader Joey van der  Berg just sent me a link to a really retro-excellent video from the early days of High End Systems and their rental stock of lighting – when it was Lowell Fowler’s first company, Blackstone Audio.  The video is below.

Lowell’s bio (founder of High End) on the High End website gives a little history:

along with wife Sue, he founded Blackstone Audio Visual, a production company marketing to touring groups and special events. In 1986, along with partner [Richard] Belliveau, High End Systems began wholesaling lighting products to the entertainment industry on a global basis. Shortly thereafter, the company moved into the design and manufacturing of microprocessor-based lighting fixtures and control systems. In addition to serving as CEO and/or President of the company for over 25 years Fowler has held various capacities primarily in the sales and marketing organizations. He is currently a member of the senior management group and serves on the Board of Directors. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Communications from the University of Texas.

I was looking a little further into the background of High End Systems, and it started out as Blackstone, then became LightWave Research (the people with the original Intellabeams) and then High End Systems.  Most of the progress seems as though it was technology driven.  An engineer named Steve Tulk who started with Blackstone Audio tells a little of his story:

In 1984 I began working at Blackstone Audio Visual as a repair and installation tech. During the 3 years of working in Clubs and Disco’s, I was privledged to have been involved with some of the most elaborate systems built in the US in the 1980’s. Lighting was just beginning to “evolve” in the US market. Much of this was driven by the lights that Blackstone imported from Europe for it’s own installations. Eventually Blackstone opened a small distribution company and called it Highend Systems.

In 1986 the FDA loosened the restrictions on class 3A lasers. This allowed a very contraversial product known as “Laser Chorus” to be built and sold into clubs. Laser Chorus was a low power laser that came in 4 different colors and was able to be safely used directly on the audience. Since this was such a new and novel product, it became very popular.

Following the popularity of Laser Chorus, another revolutionary product was born called Color Pro. The Patented Color Pro system used 3 light bulbs with dichroic filters to seperate the light into Red, Green and Blue then re-combine them into 1 light beam again to allow for almost any color to be produced from it. Since dichroic color filters were fairly new to the entertainment lighting industry, there were no inexpensive sources of these filters, only very expensive scientific grade filters which really weren’t very precise either. With that need for filters in the lighting industry, Blackstone opened another division called Lightwave Research. Four men (including myself) made lighting history by building the first optical thinfilm coating laboratory for production of dichroic filters for the entertainment lighting industry. Color Pro was a HUGE success and launched Highend Systems/Lightwave Research up to the next level.

Interesting. I am so looking forward to LDI.  Check out the video:

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