This Sunday will mark the 50th anniversary of the laser. The world's first functional laser sent out its initial pulses on May 16th back in 1960, where Theodore Maiman (pictured above), showed off the technology at the Hughes Research Laboratories. While Maiman is known as the father of the laser for being the first to realize one, he actually wasn't awarded the patent for the technology — that went to Charles Townes and Arthur Schawlow of Bell Labs who, in 1958, published a paper detailing the work they themselves did on realizing a working laser without having built one.
The laser would quickly secure itself as a vital technology in both the military and beyond, being used in combat as a quick way to find the range to a target and in civilian life as a method to cut sheet metal for automobiles. The laser is today one of the world's most prolific technologies, being used in everything from computers to toys, and its future applications only get bigger — like that laser-equipped plane Boeing has that can shoot down missiles, for instance.
So go ahead and show the laser a little love this weekend, and to Maiman, who passed away in 2007 on May 5th, barely two weeks away from seeing another anniversary of his cherished technology.