On May 16, 1960, the laser was born. The world would never be the same.

Recognized as one of the top ten technological achievements of the twentieth century, the laser's presence in the world is ubiquitous. Its continual expansion of the boundaries of science, medicine, industry, and entertainment has resulted in fiber-optic communication, CDs, CD-ROMs, and DVDs. Without the laser, millions would be blind who now see. There would be no smart bombs, supermarket bar code readers, certain life-saving cancer treatments, or precise navigation techniques for commercial aircraft. New and popular procedures that enable one to be rid of eyeglasses, remove unsightly moles, wrinkles, and tattoos, and even streamline bikini lines, would have never come to be.  The laser is now the basis for laser fusion developments at the National Ignition Facility at the Lawrence-Livermore Labs in California as well as the Pan European HiPer (High Power Laser Energy Research) Facility to produce inexhaustible, inexpensive and carbon-free energy. There are few areas in technology not influenced by the laser.

Maiman holding the first laser in front of the Nova laser

The inventor of this amazing technology was Theodore Maiman.  Educated as an experimental physicist, Maiman launched the ruby laser onto the world stage in 1960, and continued developing it and its uses in the decades since.  He gained world recognition with awards such as the Wolf Prize, the Japan Prize, and induction into the Inventors' Hall of Fame.  In 2000 he authored The Laser Odyssey, which chronicles the years leading up to his invention, as well as describing his subsequent professional and personal journeys. 
This website is devoted to introducing Theodore Maiman and his invention of the laser to the world. 

workinglaserfirstlaser pic
L: Ruby laser cross-section, R: Ruby laser without outer cylinder

The Maiman Collection

The Maiman Collection has Ted Maiman's lab notebook with the page recording the first successful firing and many other of his technical, commemorative and personal artifacts relating to the invention of the laser and his work. Additionally there are numerous photographs of Ted Maiman at various stages of his life that have never been published.

The world's first laser, a centrepiece of laser history and technology, is currently available to a sponsor for purchase.

First laser in display case

The Maiman Foundation

The purpose of the Maiman Foundation is to encourage future work in photonics and biophotonics, and science and technology in general. It will do so through the following methods: popularizing photonics and biophotonics with children through literature, films, and project kits; fostering the work of intrepid young researchers in cost-effective projects; advocating for risk taking in research by demonstrating the practical implementation of novel concepts; helping international intellectual exchanges and thus improving international scientific collaborations; and organizing future Laser Symposia.

Students' Awards

Students Awards established in 2008 in memory of Theodore Maiman in acknowledgement of his invention, the laser, and his other outstanding contributions to optics and photonics:

The Optical Society (OSA) - Maiman Student Paper Competition

Simon Fraser University (SFU) - Theodore and Abraham Maiman Graduate Bursary

The Books

The Laser Odyssey, released in 2000, gives an inside account of the invention of the laser and tells the story from Ted Maiman's unique perspective.

The Laser Inventor, released in 2018 by Springer, is an extended version of the book. It is available widely, including at Amazon.com and Indigo.