The Laserist is a
publication of the
International Laser
Display Association





Career Achievement Award

Patrick Murphy Honored with Career Achievement Award


Patrick Murphy


Patrick Murphy, founder of Pangolin Laser Systems, was honored with the ILDA 2004 Career Achievement Award. The award, presented at the Oct. 23 ILDA Awards Banquet in Las Vegas, recognizes the career of one individual who has made an outstanding contribution to laser displays.

Murphy, as founder and 15-year president of Pangolin, played a key role in making it possible for just about anyone to create affordable, professional-quality laser shows. Murphy was a pioneer in laser computer graphics. His first computerized laser graphics were done in 1979, using a mainframe computer at Oberlin College. In 1981 he earned a B.A. degree in Laser Art and Technology. For the next five years, he continued to improve his software. In 1986, Murphy founded Pangolin Laser Software to sell his Amiga-based Laser Show Designer program, the first laser software that worked like standard computer graphics paint programs.

In 1988, he and William Benner began their close collaboration on
continually-improved Lasershow Designer versions. Murphy primarily handled
Pangolin business functions and LD user interface programming, while Benner
worked on advanced LD software programming and on the QuadMod hardware
boards. Lasershow Designer was both a technological and artistic success. It
won more awards for Pangolin and its clients than any other laser software
and became  a worldwide market leader.

Murphy was a strong supporter of ILDA, working to create standardized equipment and shows. The widespread use of ILDA-compatible projectors andinterchangeable shows demonstrates the degree to which this vision was realized.  He was on the ILDA Board of Directors from 1994-1996, was elected ILDA President in 1995, and served as ILDA Airspace Issues Coordinator from 1996-1999. In November 1995,  one month after Murphy was elected ILDA President, the FDA shut down all outdoor laser shows in Las Vegas. For the next three years, Murphy and other key ILDA members worked with regulators to protect the right of laserists to do outdoor shows. This effort was eventually successful ó Murphy even wrote some of the regulations and forms used by the government. 'For his work, Murphy was awarded an ILDA Certificate of Commendation, and received an Award of Recognition from the ďSAE G-10Ēaviation safety committee.

Murphy was one of the three inventors of an entirely new style of laser display, raster graphic frames. He and Benner were co-winners of three ILDA Technology Awards and two Brewster Awards. Murphy also won an ILDA Technology Award for his renumbering algorithm, and two ILDA Artistic Awards for his own laser art creations.

Although Murphy was unable to attend the Las Vegas awards ceremony, he asked that the follow statement be read on his behalf:

"Iím sorry I canít be with you tonight. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for this wonderful recognition. It means a lot to me, since Iíve been attracted to lasers all of my working life.

"This attraction comes about, I think, because laser displays are the purest of the visual arts. If you consider the other lighting disciplines represented here at the ETS-LDI conference, light is always used in the support of something else: stage lighting, architectural lighting, nightclub lighting. But with laser shows, light IS the show.

"Light is special. It is the cosmic speed limit. It is what the universe formed out of, in the Big Bang. In the Bible, it is the second thing created, after the heavens and the earth. And the purest, most controllable light of all is lasers.

"The artistic pinnacle of laser displays, to me, were the early planetarium shows. These shows had only abstracts Ė no graphics Ė plus very creative lumia and diffraction effects. Nothing but light illustrating music. They are one of the two great accomplishments of laser art.

"The other is audience-scanned beam shows. The people in this room know, like few others, how exciting it is to be surrounded by precision-shaped light.
Itís like being inside a fireworks display! It is a shame that audience scanning shows are essentially banned in the United States. My one regret in my career is that I wasnít able to help bring audience scanning to the U.S.

"In my career, Iíve been most proud of three areas. The first and most important was to make it easier for people to create professional laser shows, with the work of Bill Benner and myself on Lasershow Designer. The second was to work with others in ILDA to create a real industry, with standard projectors and interchangeable shows like in those film and video. The third area Iím proud of is helping to keep outdoor shows legal in the U.S.

 "I could not have done this by myself. There are many people Iíd like to thank, starting with my wife Donna and with my parents, who supported my efforts even when I did something ďuselessĒ like study laser art in college. There are many others in ILDA -- too many to list. Iíd like to make special note of my friend David Lytle, whom Iíve known since high school; of Greg Makhov; and of course my long-time laser partner Bill Benner. It has been a privilege to work with him. I asked Bill if he would accept the award in my absence. Since he is on a plane right now, Iíd like to ask his wife, Karen, if she would come up and accept it. Thank you."

Awards Roundup: