© 2018

The Laser Inventor

Memoirs of Theodore H. Maiman


Part of the Springer Biographies book series (SPRINGERBIOGS)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xxxix
  2. The Maiman Memoirs

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 1-5
    2. Theodore H. Maiman
      Pages 7-15
    3. Theodore H. Maiman
      Pages 17-32
    4. Theodore H. Maiman
      Pages 33-49
    5. Theodore H. Maiman
      Pages 51-58
    6. Theodore H. Maiman
      Pages 59-66
    7. Theodore H. Maiman
      Pages 67-71
    8. Theodore H. Maiman
      Pages 73-75
    9. Theodore H. Maiman
      Pages 77-87
    10. Theodore H. Maiman
      Pages 89-94
    11. Theodore H. Maiman
      Pages 95-102
    12. Theodore H. Maiman
      Pages 103-111
    13. Theodore H. Maiman
      Pages 113-115
    14. Theodore H. Maiman
      Pages 117-124
    15. Theodore H. Maiman
      Pages 125-133
    16. Theodore H. Maiman
      Pages 135-141
    17. Theodore H. Maiman
      Pages 143-147
    18. Theodore H. Maiman
      Pages 149-153
    19. Theodore H. Maiman
      Pages 155-158

About this book


In these engaging memoirs of a maverick, Theodore H. Maiman describes the life events leading to his invention of the laser in 1960. Maiman succeeded using his expertise in physics and engineering along with an ingenious and elegant design not anticipated by others. His pink ruby laser produced mankind’s first-ever coherent light and has provided transformational technology for commerce, industry, telecom, the Internet, medicine, and all the sciences. Maiman also chronicles the resistance from his employer and the ongoing intrigue by competing researchers in industry and academia seeking to diminish his contribution in inventing the first laser. This work will appeal to a wide readership, from physicists and engineers through science enthusiasts to general readers. The volume includes extensive photos and documentary materials related to Maiman’s life and accomplishments never before published.

"No one beat Maiman to the laser. How important is the laser? How important are all lasers? That is how important we have to regard Maiman’s contribution.He and the laser changed all of our lives, everyone’s!"
Dr. Nick Holonyak, Jr., Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Physics, University of Illinois at Champaigne-Urbana, and inventor of the light-emitting diode (LED) and co-inventor of the transistor laser

"More than five decades later, we can safely conclude that Theodore Maiman's groundbreaking discovery changed the world. Our modern life just as scientific research would be quite different without the laser."
Dr. Ferenc Krausz, Director, Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics, Garching, Germany, and Professor of Physics, Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich, and pioneer in attosecond lasers and attophysics 

"Maiman had the stroke of genius needed to take a different approach [from his competitors]. The sheer elegance and simplicity of his design belies the intellectual achievement it represents. If his invention seems obvious to some today, it was far from obvious in 1960."
Jeff Hecht, authoritative science writer on the historical development of the laser, author of books on lasers and fiber optics


Biography of Theodore H. Maiman Theodore Maiman Maiman first laser laser history laser pioneers ruby laser laser Hughes coherent light stimulated emission scientific ethics

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.VancouverCanada

About the authors

Theodore H. Maiman (11.7.1927–5.5.2007) was the creator of the world's first laser. He completed his PhD in Physics at Stanford University under the Nobel Laureate Willis Lamb. Over the years, Maiman received various prizes, awards and accolades, including the Hertz Award (1966), the Optical Society of America’s R.W. Wood Prize for “Pioneer Development of the First Laser” (1976), the Wolf Foundation Physics Prize (1984) and the Japan Prize (1987). In 1984 Maiman was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, and in 1994 into the Royal College of Surgeons of England as an Honorary Fellow. He was a member of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineers, and was a Fellow of the American Physical Society, the Optical Society of America and the Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers.

Bibliographic information


“This important autobiography, replete with color images, is augmented with Maiman’s patent on ruby laser systems and his first, 1960 laser paper in Naturethis book includes key addenda on his scientific papers and patents as well as his highly deserved awards, prizes, and citations.” (Barry R. Masters, Optics & Photonics News,, April 11, 2019)

“The Laser Inventor is an interesting and engaging peek into one of modern history of science and technology's  most dramatic, far-reaching developments. It's even quite reasonably priced for a Springer hardback. Recommended.” (Brian Clegg, Popular Science,, January, 2018)

“The Laser Inventor presents a lot of interesting material and captures a piece of the history of science. I recommend it to everyone who wants to learn about the laser’s beginnings.” ( Mario Bertolotti, Physics Today, Vol. 71 (12), December, 2018)