Monthly Museum: Channel Track 2

Monthly Museum: Channel Track 2

Over the years, ETC has amassed a collection of relics from the lighting industry’s past. Once a month, we bring one of these artifacts back into the light and share it with you on this blog. This month’s featured item: a Berkey Colortran Channel Track 2 console from the MGM Grand showroom in Las Vegas.

A peek inside the Channel Track desk

The Channel Track consoles were Colortran products, but they were also an important part of early ETC history. The desks were direct descendants of ETC’s first console, the Mega Cue. Beginning in 1978, the two companies partnered to create the Channel Track system, and sold over 150 of the desks over the course of four years. ETC designed and manufactured the software, CPU board and faceplate and provided them to Colortran, who supplied the box and power supplies. The system introduced several novel technologies, including the ability to range-edit a single channel (Channel Track) and a serial digital communication system that anticipated DMX by more than eight years.

A glamorous history

Channel Track 2
Channel Track 2, S/N 14, displayed with a contemporary monitor and the floppy disk from Liberace’s show at the MGM Grand

The model exhibited here is a Channel Track 2 (serial number 14), which boasted 400 control channels and supported two monitors.  It ran on a 2.5 Mhz Z-80A processor and used only 48K of DRAM. This unit was installed in the showroom at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. It remained in use there for over a decade, even surviving a fire in 1980. Around 1992, the console was retired and sent back to ETC, where it has lived ever since. When the console arrived, it still had the disk from Liberace’s show in one of its two 8″ floppy drives.


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One Comment

  1. Derek Leffew

    It might be noted that the hotel was the original MGM Grand, which is now Bally’s; and that the “MGM Grand showroom” is more properly called the Celebrity Room, which was closed in 1998.

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