On May 16, 1960, Theodore Maiman invented the first laser, with a unique, ingenious design based on pink ruby.
This must-read book details the human foibles of the corporate and the government funding of research, the journal publication process, the patent system, and the errors of the Nobel Foundation in their selection of prize recipients. Maiman worked at Hughes with an assistant, competing against formidable opponents with disproportionate, enormous assets: Arthur Schawlow at Bell Laboratories, Charles Townes at Columbia University, and researchers at MIT, TRG, IBM, GE, and RCA. Maiman made the first laser. His opponents failed, yet they used spin to minimize Maiman’s great achievement and made spurious claims of their own priority for the first laser. This important autobiography, replete with color images, is augmented with Maiman’s patent on ruby laser systems and his first, 1960 laser paper in Nature (Physical Review Letters rejected it). Reissued after Maiman’s death, this book includes key addenda on his scientific papers and patents as well as his highly deserved awards, prizes, and citations. Review by Barry R. Masters, Fellow of AAAS, OSA and SPIE The opinions expressed in the book review section are those of the reviewer and do not necessarily reflect those of OPN or OSA.