LASER’s allow light to be intensely focused. There are many uses, from reading digital media at low power to cutting at higher powers. Countless applications rely on LASER technology.
In 1957, Arthur Schawlow and Charles Townes, of Bell Labs, worked on an infrared LASER, called an “optical MASER.” They patented the invention in 1958.
In 1960, Theodore Maiman of Hughes Research Lab created the first visible-light LASER. It was based on Schawlow and Townes (and, arguably, Gould’s) work.
Gordon Gould also claims credit for innovating the LASER, having notarized earlier notes he’d shown to Schawlow. However, Gould could not obtain patents because the work was considered classified by the US Government. Gould was a communist sympathizer. He spent 30 years fighting for laser patents and eventually won. However, by then he’d sold 80% of the royalties. Eventually, he still collected several million dollars.
Townes shared the 1964 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on the LASER. Schawlow shared the 1981 Nobel Prize for helping to invent the LASER.