All about Vari*Lite

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If you’ve ever been to a rock concert, you’ve likely been dazzled by an amazing light-show. While there are now many lighting brands available, Vari*Lite are widely regarded as the pioneers of automated moving-light technology.

It was in 1970 when three friends based in Texas, USA formed an equipment rental company - Showco - to supply bands across the region with sound, and later lighting equipment while on tour. The company was successful and grew in popularity throughout the decade. By the late 1970s however, the company’s lighting equipment stock was starting to look outdated but the company had insufficient funds to afford new products.

In 1980, Jim Bornhorst - an engineer with Showco - had been experimenting with dichroic filters and had discovered that twisting them resulted in a colour change effect. He realised the potential of this new technology and started to develop a working prototype. This would eventually be known as the VL-Zero.


Characterised by its hexagonal head, the VL Zero layed the foundations for the company’s future lighting fixtures. With two gobos and a lense capable of a wide range of beam widths, the VL1 series was released in 1981. It’s first outing was with Genesis who had helped to finance the company a few years beforehand. Their 1981 tour featured over one hundred VL1 fixtures fixed to overheas trusses.