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  • HRL Designated Historical Laser Site
Apr 2010
MALIBU, Calif., May 16, 2010 — HRL Laboratories LLC, formerly Hughes Research Laboratories, will be designated a Physics Historical Site by the American Physical Society (APS) as the location where the first working laser was demonstrated 50 years ago.

HRL will be recognized during an event on May 16, 2010, at its facilities overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Malibu. On this same date in 1960, Hughes physicist Dr. Theodore Maiman and his colleagues Drs. Irnee D'Haenens and Charley Asawa successfully powered up the first working laser comprised of a rod of ruby crystal with reflectors at each end surrounded by a three-loop flashlamp.

The invention led to a billion-dollar rangefinding business for Hughes and significant advances in science, communications, manufacturing, medicine and defense.

APS will present a plaque documenting the historic moment: “At this laboratory Theodore H. Maiman and co-workers constructed the world's first working laser on May 16, 1960. Made of synthetic ruby, it was the harbinger of a technological revolution that has forever changed the world.”

APS created the Historical Sites Initiative in October 2004 to raise public awareness of physics. Other APS historical sites include Bell Laboratories, The Franklin Institute and MIT Radiation Laboratory. Jefferson Laboratory at Harvard University will also be honored in 2010.

A number of laboratories were attempting to demonstrate the laser concept in the late 1950s because the potential of the technology was enormous, projecting the radio spectrum “into a range some ten thousand times higher than that which was previously attainable,” Maiman said at a press conference announcing his breakthrough in July 1960. “Its success marks the opening of an entirely new era in electronics.”

Maiman’s complete remarks and other historical documents and information are posted on HRL’s website. HRL is a corporate partner in LaserFest, a year-long celebration of laser innovation.

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