Theodore “Ted” Maiman (1927-2007) holds U.S. Patent 3,353,115 for the world’s first working laser. His creation, using a synthetic ruby and flashlamps, was first operated on May 16, 1960, at Hughes Research Laboratories. Today, the laser has a remarkable array of uses from surgery to shopping.
Maiman earned his master’s degree in electrical engineering and his PhD in physics at Stanford. Maiman had a rare blend of advanced training in physics and engineering combined with significant laboratory experience.
The design of Maiman’s laser was so simple it is estimated to have cost Hughes Research just $50,000 to produce, including the inventor’s salary — likely one of the greatest research bargains of all time.