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Laser Technicians

History

The laser was invented in 1958 by the American physicist Gordon Gould. The first working model was a ruby laser, designed and built by Dr. Ted Maiman in 1960. This first working laser created great interest in scientific research laboratories and started intensive experimentation and development in the field of electro-optics.

The word "laser" is actually an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. The laser converts electrical power into a special beam of optical or light power. Laser light is different from white light, or light that is produced by ordinary sources. It travels in a parallel beam, diffusing much less than white light. It is also composed of a single color wavelength as opposed to the jumble of colored light waves that make up white light. Because of these unique properties, laser light can be used in a number of different ways.

After its discovery, engineers and scientists considered using the light beam's power in the same ways as electrical power. From 1960 to 1967, various new lasers and electro-optic devices and techniques were developed. Some had considerable optical power, while others had only a small amount of power.

It soon became clear that lasers could be used in a great many ways to solve problems that previously had no practical solution. For example, the concentrated beams of laser light were so powerful that they could drill tiny holes in diamonds, taking minutes where old methods took days.

Lasers began to be used in practical applications, such as surgery, surveying and measuring, industrial product inspection and testing, computers, microprocessors, and manufacturing. As lasers moved from research laboratories to industry, a need arose for workers who were trained in the practical application and technical aspects of the field. In the early 1970s, two-year technical institutes and community colleges began offering specialized training programs in laser technology. The position of laser technician has become a valuable and necessary one in many industries, medical settings, and research programs.

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