This is a very long explanation only for those who care.
Channels is an odd word. Marquee's ONLY reference to channels was to the thingies on the dongle you could consume. There was no 'Leading Channel List' or 'Channel Grid' or 'Selected Channels'. The numbered things in the Live display were Fixtures (some had more than one attribute, others didn't; those that did had a red triangle beside them).
Your suggestion of using output consumption is not correct. I can have a console authorized for 100 thingies, have a fixture grid with numbers 1 through 100 in it, then patch Fixture 1 to Outputs 1 thru 512. We don't care how many Outputs a Fixture gets patched to. Think of a Fixture (or channel if you want) used for a red cyc. There may be 12 or more dimmer involved, but that just consumes one thingie on the dongle.
Things we were trying to avoid:
- Hog Style numbering where individual manufacturer's fixtures had unique numbers. This was 100% opposed to the concept of the Abstract Control Model
- ETC or Compulite style SPOT vs. CHANNEL buttons (a light is a light)
- In the world of ACN and Shownet and the proliferation of moving lights, the term Dimmer. We chose Output
- The singular use of Channel referring to a complex moving light with many motors
We could have used the word Luminare or Instrument or Unit, but we chose Fixture.
Now to explain the economic model: We make money on selling authorizations. There is a market for desks that only can control 100 unique or parallel things. This is our low end desk. If you choose to control 512 dimmers with the thing called #1 in the grid - that is OK with us, but it very much limits your artistic abilities. If you do in fact have 512 dimmers, you should probably buy a desk that can run each of them individually just in case you have a rig that (one day) has 512 things that emit light. Then you can be very creative and control them all individually. In that case, you would expect to purchase something that can control more than 100 thingies.
When you throw moving lights into the rig (say Cyberlights because they use a nice even 20 DMX), we were not going to give you full control of 100 x 20= 2000 thingies. We have a different market for that. (Note: when counting thingies, we can't say motors because some motors are 16-bit and we can't say attributes because that makes no sense with the Abstract Control Model). To control 20 Cyberlights, you need a desk authorized for 2000 thingies. We chose to use the word Channel.
In history, Strand still likes the word Channel, where some channels have attributes and others don't. All have intensity and some additionally have attributes. With the Abstract Control Model, Intensity is also an attribute, so this confuses things a bit. In my mind the word Fixture does not imply singular control. The word Channel, as it would appear in the grid, does. This is why ‘I’ avoid the word channel when referring to things in the grid.
As so far as the use of the word Channel in the patch summary (the thingies on the dongle), think of them NOT as DMX slots, but as handles. If you had a manual desk and you wanted to control a Cyberlight, you would need 20 handles. If you wanted to control the red cyc, you only need one handle. If you want to control the Window Gobo special, you need one handle. If you want to control a video server, you need a lot more handles.