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Innovation

Happy 50th birthday laser

In 1958, Bell Labs researchers Charles Townes and Arthur Schawlow, having not yet made a laser, applied for a patent based on a paper they'd written on the subject. The patent was awarded in 1960, the same year the first laser was built.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor on

The laser's 50th birthday is right around the corner.

On May 16, the laser will turn 50. Here's a look at a few mileposts:

  • In 1958, Bell Labs researchers Charles Townes and Arthur Schawlow, having not yet made a laser, applied for a patent based on a paper they'd written on the subject. They had written in the December 1958 issue of the journal Physical Review that it was possible to extend the principles of the "maser" to the optical regions of the spectrum. They received U.S. patent number 2,929,922 in 1960, the same year that Theodore Maiman at Hughes Aircraft built the world's first actual laser.

  • The patent that started it all.

Gallery: The laser turns 50

  • An application from today: A look at the targeting forward-looking infrared pod, from Raytheon.

  • And an etching machine.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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