Digitalis was founded in 2003 by Robert Spearman and Karrie Berglund. Rob had been a software architect, and Karrie was a teacher for Seattle's Pacific Science Center (PSC). At PSC Karrie taught with STARLAB® cylinder based systems all over Washington state for many years, and later oversaw the on-site Willard Smith Planetarium and its Spitz® 512 starball. Digitalis was the perfect way to combine their knowledge and experience to fill an unmet need.
Digitalis's breakthrough Digitarium Alpha planetarium projector, introduced in 2003, was the first truly affordable digital planetarium system. Up until that point there were not even true portable planetarium systems available since the analog STARLAB® projectors could not show planetary motion.
Our subsequent systems for portable and fixed domes continue in this innovative mold, offering what we believe is by far the best value on the market for practical astronomy education. The fact that Digitarium systems have outsold any other brand of digital planetarium speaks to how well we are meeting this need.
Our innovations are grounded upon a unique blend of technical expertise and real-world astronomy education experience. Our goal is to offer the most cost effective, easy to use, and practical astronomy education tools.
We moved into our present headquarters in 2011, former Fire Station No. 1 in Bremerton, Washington. This provided enough 'space' for our own fixed planetarium for the public with live, interactive shows presented by Digitalis staff. The Pacific Planetarium is a 6.1m fiberglass dome with Digitalis designed ergonomic concentric bench seating for 28 people.
We organized and hosted the first ever LIPS: Live Interactive Planetarium Symposium in August, 2011. We firmly believe in the educational effectiveness of live, interactive programs, and we understand intimately what is required of a system so that planetarium teachers can easily do live shows. We have made many improvements to our Digitarium systems based on our experiences presenting shows.
Initially we were responsible for adding most of the planetarium specific features to the open source Stellarium software, which we used in our Digitarium systems. However, it became clear that desktop software projects are just not compatible with the needs of planetarium presenters. So in 2011 we began work on Nightshade NG, our next generation simulation software. This was a large effort, but an incredible improvement in performance, features, and usability.
In 2014 we began demonstrating our Æthos Multi-projector Planetarium Systems. We brought our same ethos of intuitive usability and reliable, elegant simplicity to this product line, for example in our groundbreaking unified architecture. For increased realiability and a live-feedback user interface, we even developed our own auto-calibration system.
We released a refactored Nightshade NG with significant new feature additions in 2021. This made Digitalis the first planetarium manufacturer with scientifically accurate volumetric models for most of the major Local Group galaxies. Another milestone was the release of our Universal Console 2.0 user interface.
Stay tuned for more exciting changes!