Century Lighting was formed in 1929 and by virtue of their introduction of the Leko, this outfit ran neck and neck for sixty years with their much older competitor, the Kliegl Brothers.  

The Leko revolutionized the business.

"Lekolite" was Century's trade name for the all new ellipsoidal reflector spotlight, taken from its inventors LEvy and KOok.  For decades, Kliegl claimed that they had invented this "unusual optical unit," but no less an authority than Dr. Joel Rubin has assured me that the leko was invented by Century, and he has a letter from Stanley McCandless (the father of modern lighting design) to prove it.

Before lekos, spotlights contained a single plano-convex lens and no reflector, meaning they could not focus sharp without showing filament, and they burned very dim.  The Leko added an ingenious parabolic reflector, a second lens for sharp focus, and framing shutters. 

This 1960 Century book is a landmark publication, more of a textbook than catalog, and the first ever written for lighting designers who were a new breed.   It's comprehensive in scope, exacting in detail, and as the book reveals, Century had most of the shows on Broadway, so it's also authoritative.

The catalog itself doesn't begin until page after page of recommended equipment outlays for variously-sized theatres.  And unlike any contemporary text, they show you how to light an arena, a thrust, a musical tent, and an amphitheatre.  They show you the proper symbols used in the NYC templates of Peggy Clark, Jean Rosenthal and Abe Feder.   Jimmy Othuse, who graciously allowed me to scan the book, told me it served as "his Bible" for many, many years.

Besides the leko, Century introduced striplights with R-40 lamps, the Beam Projector (invented by Abe Feder), and the SCR.   Like Kliegl, the had their own line of plastic gel, Cinemoid.  

If you can't light a show after reading this book, don't blame Century!

May 22, 2016