Originators of the moving light, Vari-Lite is synonymous with spectacle. And for good reason. For over three decades, our luminaires have helped to create unforgettable rock and roll shows and events.
But what’s behind it all? Technical and creative passion.
Since 1981, we’ve combined innovative engineering with a love of performance to bring the dreams and talents of creative people to life. That same spirit lives on today. We provide lighting designers with the tools they need to create moments to remember.
With advanced optics, superior mechanics and unparalleled color mixing, our luminaires can add subtle nuances or breath-taking effects to a wide range of applications. It’s all driven by the desire to explore new techniques and technologies to create inspirational shows all over the world.
1970: Showco Inc. begins operations from a garage in Dallas, providing sound reinforcement for touring bands such as Led Zeppelin and Three Dog Night.
1980: A team of Showco production professionals develops a new concept in stage lighting – a total system approach to automation.
1980: With their first crude luminaire prototype, company officials fly to England to demonstrate the fixture to Genesis band members Tony Banks, Phil Collins and Mike Rutherford, along with long-time manager Tony Smith. Genesis decides to invest in the development of the new system for their next tour. Smith coins the name Vari-Lite.
1981: Vari-Lite develops its first Vari-Lite Series 100 system through the patented use of dichroic color filters and newly available metal halide arc lamps. Multi-function, automated luminaires, combined with a comprehensive computerized control system, offer unprecedented capabilities to entertainment lighting.
1981: The Series 100 system premieres at a Genesis concert in Barcelona, Spain. For the first time ever, lighting designers are able to control all the variable parameters of light including color, pan, tilt, beam size and patterns.
1986: Using the latest computer technology, engineers at Vari-Lite develop the Series 200 system. Each Series 200 luminaire is individually fitted with a microprocessor, enabling high level two-way data communication with another new product, the Artisan control console.
1991: The VL4 wash luminaire sets new standards for electronic and mechanical engineering excellence. Vari-Lite Inc. is presented with a Prime Time Emmy® Award for Outstanding Achievement in Engineering, recognizing the development of the Vari-Lite Series 200 automated lighting system.
1992: Vari-Lite's Series 300 system is launched with the release of the VL5 wash luminaire featuring its patented radial dichroic color changer, compact size and silent operation. Series 300 system control options make Vari-Lite luminaires available to a wider spectrum of lighting designers.
1993: Vari-Lite forms Irideon Inc. is, bringing automated lighting techniques and technology to the architectural market through products designed specifically for use in architecture.
1994: Vari-Lite receives its second Prime Time Emmy Award recognizing the engineering achievement in the VL5 wash luminaire.
1994: The VL6 spot luminaire is launched. Brightness, compact size and quiet operation combined with the unique precision images made possible by the Vari-Image gobo process make the perfect Series 300 companion to the VL5 wash luminaire.
1994: The release of the mini-Artisan2 console and the VLM moving mirror fixture give the Series 300 system a complete range of automated lighting functionality.
1997: Vari-Lite offices in Las Vegas, Chicago and Orlando are converted to Vari-Lite Production Services locations, bringing Vari-Lite service and production expertise to all aspects of production lighting.
1997: The innovative VL7 spot luminaire is unveiled at Lighting Dimensions International in Las Vegas.
1998: Vari-Lite offices in Nashville, Madrid and London convert to full service VLPS lighting operations. Acquisitions further European presence in Brussels, Amsterdam, Stockholm and Paris. The operations of Concert Production Lighting and Theatre Projects are absorbed into VLPS London
1998: Vari-Lite unveils the Virtuoso control system adding features and capabilities including integrated 3-D modeling of the lighting system and the operating style of conventional lighting desks.
1998: Vari-Lite produces an upgraded VL6B spot luminaire, and introduces the new VL7B spot luminaire adding four-frame shuttering capabilities to the popular Series 300 flagship VL7 product line.
1999: Los Angeles and New York offices join the VLPS group and convert to full service lighting operations. Vari-Lite announces plans to offer a new line of Vari-Lite luminaires and consoles for sale.
2000: The Vari-Lite Virtuoso DX console is introduced at LDI along with the VL2000 Spot luminaire and the VL2000 Wash luminaire. The VL2000 wash luminaire goes on to receive the EDDY Award for Lighting Product of the Year.
2000: Production of the VL2000 series of spot luminaires and VL2000 series of wash luminaires begins. Around the world, lighting professionals have the choice to rent or own Vari-Lite automated lighting systems.
2001: Vari-Lite is presented with its third Prime Time Emmy® Award for Outstanding Achievement in Engineering for the Virtuoso console. The VL1000 ellipsoidal reflector spotlight makes its debut at LDI in Orlando, Fla., ushering in a new era of automated luminaires by setting the new standard in lighting affordability and innovation.
2002: The Association of British Theatre Technicians names the VL1000 ERS its Lighting Product of the Year. The Vari-Lite Series 3000 product line is introduced at PLASA in London and LDI in Las Vegas, giving lighting designers the color-mixing spotlight they have been wanting.
2002: Genlyte Thomas Group acquires all assets of Vari-Lite's manufacturing and sales division including the Vari-Lite name, brand and all patents associated with Vari-Lite products.
2003: Vari-Lite relocates to a new 60,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Dallas.
Vari-Lite begins shipping first Series 3000 luminaires.
2004: The Vari-Lite Series 3500 and Series 2500 product lines are introduced at LDI in Las Vegas, solidifying the complete VARI*LITE product line as the industry's premiere automated luminaires. The VL2500 Wash luminaire goes on to win the EDDY Award for Lighting Product of the Year.
2005: The Vari-Lite Series 500 product line is introduced at PLASA in London and LDI in Orlando, providing the much-anticipated next generation of the beloved VL5 Wash luminaire.
2006: Vari-Lite proudly begins their 25th Anniversary celebration by hosting events at both the PLASA tradeshow in London and the LDI tradeshow in Las Vegas.
2007: The Vari-Lite VL3500 Wash luminaire is introduced creating a new standard in lumen output and beam control for all automated wash luminaires.
2007: Royal Philips Electronics purchases the Genlyte Group, along with Vari-Lite, creating Philips Vari-Lite.
2008: The Vari-Lite VL3500 Wash FX luminaire is introduced at PLASA allowing users to harness the tremendous intensity of the 1500 Watt luminaire to project effects patterns.
2009: Philips Vari-Lite introduces the ground-breaking VLX Wash luminaire which incorporates the most attractive benefits of LED lighting technology with the product quality and design ingenuity only found in Vari-Lite automated luminaires.
2011: Based upon the technologies inside two of their most in-demand fixtures, Philips Vari-Lite unveils a series of compact, more-affordable and feature-rich luminaires with the VLX3 LED Wash, VL440 Spot, VL770 Spot and the VL880 Spot luminaires.
2015: Sixty VL4000 versatile BeamWash fixtures become a staple on AC/DC’s Rock our Bust tour designed by the legendary Patrick Woodroffe.
2017: Vari-Lite launches the VL6000 Beam, bringing powerful aerial affects to large arena and stadium shows via a wide, retro-styled searchlight face. It goes on win both PLSN's ‘Best New Beam Fixture 2017’ award and the Parnelli Award for ‘Indispensable Technology.’
2019: Having separated from its parent company Royal Philips in 2015, Philips Lighting rebrands as Signify. Vari-Lite and stablemate Strand regain their stand-alone brand status, with a renewed commitment from the business to innovate and support the visions of creative artists worldwide.