Journal of the European Optical Society - Rapid publications, Vol 5 (2010)

Why the first laser worked as designed (and is still kicking today)

A. H. Rawicz


Theodore Maiman, the inventor of the laser, was both a physicist and an engineer. One can speculate that this combination of backgrounds was the main reason for the successful design, construction, and demonstration of the ruby laser in May 1960. The reasons for this success - as stated by Maiman in discussions with the present author - include some basic rules of elegant engineering design: understand what you want to make, understand the physics behind it, understand the nature of the materials to be used for fabrication, and finally, be a minimalist – simplify. Even now, the elegance and simplicity of the design of the first laser is evident upon viewing. The following text will try to gather and clarify all the components necessary for an invention such as the laser, classified by Nature magazine as one of twenty one most important inventions of twentieth century.

© The Authors. All rights reserved. [DOI: 10.2971/jeos.2010.10046s]

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