It was in 1960 when Theodore Maiman first showed the optical laser at work. However, the development and history of laser began in the early 1900s with Albert Einstein.
Laser is an acronym for Light Amplification by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation. Basically it is a device that produces light by way of stimulated emission. It was Albert Einstein who postulated the theory of stimulated emissions back in 1917.
What Einstein said was this: it’s possible to construct light rays that release energy. By making light rays with the proper frequency, it could be directed at atoms and produce energy.
In 1958, Charles Townes and Arthur Schawlow developed the maser (short for microwave amplification by stimulated emission of radiation). It wasn’t laser, but its development was crucial in the history of laser. The maser would be used to strengthen radio signals and used in space research as well.
The First Lasers
Two years later in 1960, Theodore Maiman created the ruby laser. However Gordon Gould was the first person to actually use the word laser. Gould was working with Dr. Townes when he mentioned the word laser in 1957.
There are reports he had already invented the optical laser in 1957 but failed to patent it. It wasn’t until 1977 that Gould got his patent for the laser. However it remains that Maiman was the first to show a working laser.
In 1960 Ali Javan invented the gas laser. It was the first in the history of laser to actually change electrical energy into laser. This was followed by Robert Hall’s invention of semiconductor laser in 1962. Two years later Kumar Patel developed the carbon dioxide laser, and this was followed by Hal Walker’s invention of the laser telemetry.
Laser Eye Treatment
Dr. Steven Trokel had invented the Excimer laser in the 1970s. It was first used in computers but in 1982 his team discovered its potential for treating the eyes. In 1987 the first laser eye surgery was conducted. Since that time, laser eye treatment has become commonplace.
Uses and Applications
The history of laser from the 1960s onward has been marked by continuous improvement, inventions and increasing number of applications. Aside from eye treatment, the laser is now being used in other industries. Practically all forms of electronic gadgets use it in some way. It is still utilized in medical facilities, and it is employed in scientific research.
Lasers are also used to produce light shows in concerts and clubs.
It is used for laser printing and in dentistry. Surgical procedures, welding and missile defense systems also avail of this technology.
Spectroscopy, electro optical countermeasures and micro dissection also employ laser technology. Products that use laser include compact discs, laser lights, pointers and various acne removing processes. There are other products and services that exploit this technology.
When the device was invented, scientists were wondering what it could be used for. As the history of laser shows, it has become an invaluable part of modern society.