A Laser Chronology
1933-1947: Charles Townes works as a member of the technical staff at Bell Labs
1948: Charles Townes is appointed associate professor at Columbia University
1951: Charles Townes & associates begin work on using ammonia gas as medium for the transmission of radiation
1954: Dr. Townes and associates achieve the first generation and amplification of electromagnetic waves by stimulated emission; this is the invention of the "maser" (microwave amplification by stimulated emission of radiation")
1958: Dr. Townes and his brother-in-law, Dr. A. L. Shawlow, demonstrate theoretically that masers could be designed to operate in the optical and infrared regions; this is the first example the concept of the "laser".
1960: Theodore Maiman invents the ruby laser, considered to be the first successful optical or light laser. Ali Javan also invents the first laser using gas, the helium neon laser.
1962: Robert Hall invents the semiconductor injection laser used in such common devices as CD players and laser printers
1964: Kumar Patel invents the carbon dioxide laser
1968: Science fiction becomes reality as Frederick R. Schollhammer receives a patent for the first hand-held laser ray gun
1969: Hildreth Walker Jr. adapts Maiman's laser to measure the distance between Earth and and the moon during the Apollo 11 mission
1975: Engineers at Laser Diode Labs develop the first commercial continuous-wave semi-conductor laser operating at room temperature; this opens the door to the possibility of fiber-optic communications.
1981: Walker further develops the laser for telemetry, automatic measurement of distance, and data communication for the U.S. Army's use in targeting systems.
1982: R. Srinivasin, J. Wynne, and S. Blum realize that the excimer laser - used to engrave computer chips in the IBM lab, can have biological applications
1983: New York ophthalmologist Steven Trokel uses the excimer laser to correct the vision of a myopic cow.
1987: Trokel performs the first human cornea laser surgery using the excimer laser
early 1990s: Laparoscopic surgery becomes popular in the U.S., often utilizing lasers which drastically reduce invasiveness, post-operational scarring, and recovery time
1992: Announcement of the construction of LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory), which studies waves in the space-time continuum and could shed new light on the birth of the universe
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