The line array effect of the narrowing of the beam with increasing frequency was first demonstrated by acoustical pioneer Harry Olson. He published his findings in his 1957 text, Acoustical Engineering. Olson used line array concepts to develop the column speaker in which vertically aligned drivers in a single enclosure produced mid-range output in a wide horizontal and narrow vertical pattern. Line arrays have been around for over half a century but until recently most were voice range only. The application for these were for highly reverberant spaces where a narrow vertical design kept from exciting the reverberant field.
A multi-band line array elements in a horizontally-oriented enclosure was suggested by Joseph D'Appolito in 1983. However it was L-Acoustics' V-DOSC line array in the mid-1990s that would show the concert world that a more level and smoother frequency response can come from fewer boxes in a line array. As soon as people realized that there was no destructive interference in the horizontal plane and waves combine mostly in phase in the vertical plane, the race was on for loudspeaker manufacturers.
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