The UK’s first automated power flying system

I love this article from ABTT Sightline (1979), written by the great Dick Brett on the original Olivier Power Flying System. I remember Ray Cross, chief LX at the Oxford Playhouse sharing this with me, whilst I was still a student. The first ‘computerised’ power flying system in the UK, 160 hoists controlled by 35 drives through a telephone exchange style automatic patch panel all running on a PDP11 with a 1MByte hard disk (or process peripherals disk as it was referred to). So many of the modern concepts (playbacks, deads, timed and synchronised cues) exist in this pioneering system. An amazing feat of engineering at the time, and the start of a journey to automation in the theatre.

With thanks to Robin Townley and the ABTT Archives for sharing.

  1. Richard Pilbrow avatar

    Mark, thanks for this. A reminder of an extraordinary installation, but more importantly of a great man and true friend

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