Quantel Paintbox

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Quantel Paintbox
Quantel Paintbox logo.jpg
Quantel Paintbox (1).jpg
Paintbox 7001 and original Paintbox logo from 1990
Also known asQuantel Digital Paint Box
Type2D graphics workstation
Release date1981; 41 years ago (1981)
Introductory price$250,000 (1981)
CPUMotorola 68000
PredecessorIBC Paintbox prototype
SuccessorQuantel Editbox
RelatedQuantel Mirage

The Quantel Paintbox was a dedicated computer graphics workstation for composition of broadcast television video and graphics. Produced by the British production equipment manufacturer Quantel (which, via a series of mergers, is now part of Grass Valley), its design emphasized the studio workflow efficiency required for live news production. At a price of about US$250,000 (equivalent to $652,000 in 2021) per unit, they were used primarily by large TV networks such as NBC,[1] while in the UK, Peter Claridge's company CAL Videographics was the first commercial company to purchase one. Following its initial launch in 1981, the Paintbox revolutionised the production of television graphics.

Original line[edit]

Paintbox DPB 7000/7001[edit]

The interface of running Quantel Paintbox software on a V-series Paintbox

The first generation Paintbox, the 1981 DPB-7001, was built from readily-available off-the-shelf components, supported by Programmable Array Logic ICs which were custom-programmed by Quantel.

Artist Martin Holbrook worked with Quantel's development team to develop the artist-oriented functionality and user interface, which remained virtually unchanged throughout the life of the product; the custom developed pressure-sensitive pen which proved the killer app.[2]

Paintbox V-series[edit]

Paintbox V-series promotional video
video icon https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BwO4LP0wLbY&t=244s

Released in 1989 modernized and more compact model;[3] aside from internal hardware improvements, the new keyboard and cordless pen also introduced.

From the end of lifespan of Paintbox V line most of his features was also integrated into the latest Quantel Henry,[2] and in 1993 the Quantel Editbox were merged the both lines.

In contrast to the earlier DPB-7000 series machines, the V-series made extensive use of Altera CPLD and FPGA ICs, which integrated much of the complex SSI logic into a smaller number of ICs. Some versions of the V-series hardware refined the design further by moving the CPLD and FPGA logic into "hard-copy" ASICs, which were manufactured by Orbit Semiconductor.

Notable works[edit]

Front cover of Quantel's Graphic Paintbox brochure

The cover for The Miracle, rock band Queen's studio album, was created by Richard Gray on a Quantel Paintbox in 1989. It was used by six artists and designers, including David Hockney and Richard Hamilton, to create original artwork in the 1987 BBC series Painting with Light. Quantel also placed a number of Paintbox IV series systems in art schools in the UK, including Blackpool College where it was used extensively by artist Adrian Wilson to create digital images, including the James album cover for Gold Mother. Two of Wilson's Paintbox pieces were included in the pioneering Art & Computers exhibition at the Cleveland Art Gallery, England, September 1988 and he was sponsored by Quantel, who used his images for the cover of the Graphic Paintbox sales brochure. One recipient, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art had recently appointed the video artist Stephen Partridge as a lecturer who then established (1984) The Television Workshop to support artists and filmmakers' production and access to high-level broadcast technology. Over 400 productions were supported in this way from 1984 to 1992 until desktop video pre-empted the need. Artists and filmmakers using the workshop included Richard Morrison,[4] Jeff Keen, Robert Cahen, Tamara Krikorian, Pictorial Heroes, Judith Goddard and many others.[5] The music video for Dire Straits' "Money for Nothing" was created on a Bosch FGS-4000 3D animation system using a Quantel Paintbox for backgrounds and textures. Graphics for Disney Sing-Along Songs were also created on a Paintbox.

Reintroduced model[edit]

In 2002, the generationQ series of products introduced the last stand-alone Paintbox and the QPaintbox software for PCs.[6] Eventually, Paintbox became a feature of Quantel's other, more powerful editing, media management and post-production products.[7]

In 2005 Quantel update the line of X86-based workstations (with Paintbox and Paintbox gQ models, and QPaintbox software-only version).[8][9] The new Quantel Editbox also released.

Legal action[edit]

In the late 1980s, Quantel embarked on lawsuits against the Adobe Photoshop software package and the Spaceward Graphics Matisse system in an attempt to protect patented aspects of the Paintbox system. They won the initial case against Spaceward in 1990, but finally lost the case against Adobe in 1997 following depositions and demonstrations by a number of Computer Graphics pioneers including Alvy Ray Smith and Dick Phillips. Richard Shoup ported his 1973 paint program SuperPaint to Windows for demonstration purposes, and was able to demonstrate that Superpaint had particular features before Quantel's Paintbox. Shoup's port is available for download from his personal website.[10]

Demise of Quantel[edit]

Despite becoming the industry standard TV graphics and post production computer with hundreds sold around the world, Quantel lost all its market share against cheaper systems and software. There is only one DPB- 7001 known to still exist and it’s currently being restored and repaired by Mark Nias on the 40th anniversary of its launch.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ward, Alex (1984-07-22). "COMPUTER GRAPHICS ENLIVEN THE SCREEN". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-07-08.
  2. ^ a b Pennington2019-11-25T23:09:00+00:00, Adrian. "Industry innovators: Quantel". IBC. Retrieved 2021-07-01.
  3. ^ Robertson, Adi (2012-07-14). "Watch this: 1990 demo of the Quantel Paintbox". The Verge. Retrieved 2021-07-01.
  4. ^ Landekic, Lola (September 15, 2015). Lola Landekic Will Perkins (ed.). "Hackers". www.artofthetitle.com. Retrieved 2021-07-01.
  5. ^ The Television Workshop
  6. ^ Pank, Bob. "The Digital Fact Book Converged media 20th anniversary edition" (PDF). Retrieved 2009-11-06.
  7. ^ "Pablo grading and finishing for HD, 2K, 4K and stereo3D" (PDF). Retrieved 2009-11-06.
  9. ^ October 2004, TVTechnology 07 (7 October 2004). "Quantel re-engineers Paintbox". TVTechnology. Retrieved 2021-07-01.
  10. ^ "The SuperPaint System (1973-1979)". Archived from the original on September 1, 2015. Retrieved 2015-09-01.

External links[edit]