Abstract. The Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) was completed, on budget, in November 2005, in just under 6 years, and is currently in the middle of its commissioning and performance verification phase, expected to be concluded by early 2007. SALT partners have already been obtaining observations during this shake-down period, and night time hours devoted to science time has slowly risen to 65-75%. Already some scientific results have been obtained and the first SALT science paper accepted for publication. SALT promises to be ideally suited to many survey follow-up programs and indeed for surveys of its own, for which observational cosmology will definitely benefit. The capabilities and innovative aspects of SALTs “first light ” instruments are described. These instruments, which are all designed as seeing-limited, operate in the UV-visible region (320−900 nm), and will provide capabilities for broad and narrow band imaging, long-slit and multi-object spectroscopy (R ∼ 6000 for seeing limit), spectropolarimetry and Fabry-Perot and tuneable filter imaging (R ∼ 320 to 9000, depending on etalon choice). Time resolved studies are supported by the use of fast readout CCD detectors, capable of high speed operation (10−2
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