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Theodore Harold Maiman

American Jewish Inductees of the National Inventors Hall of Fame

Theodore Harold Maiman:
Inducted into the National
Inventors Hall of Fame-1984

by Seymour “Sy” Brody

Theodore Harold Maiman was an American Jewish inductee into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, in 1984, for his development of the first operative laser.

He was born on July 11, 1927, in Los Angeles, California, and grew up mainly in Denver. His father, Abraham, was an electrical engineer for A. T. & T., who worked mainly on inventions. His father hoped that he would be a medical doctor, but his son did more for medicine with his invention of the laser for eye surgery and other delicate procedures.

Laser beams are used not only in medicine, but also in industry, electronic, data processing, communications and scientific research. Industry uses the laser to weld, drill, cut seam and mark, and heat treat with the effect of a high yield, excellent reproducibility. A laser beam is used in many different ways as in supermarkets scanning bar codes on groceries. There is hardly an industry that does not have a need for the use of the laser beam.

Maiman attended the University of Colorado and he earned his B.S. degree in engineering physics, in 1949. He then went to Stanford University where he received his M.S. in electrical engineering, in 1951 and a Ph.D. in physics, in 1955.

Maiman was dissatisfied with the Hughes Corporation and he left to form his own company, Korad Corporation, in 1962. He wanted his company to be involved in research, development and the manufacture of lasers.

He received many awards for his laser including the Fannie and John Hertz Science Award, The Wolf Prize in Physics, the Japan Prize, twice nominated for the Nobel Prize, the Oliver Buckley Prize, membership in the National Academy of Science and the National Academy of Engineering Maiman was the author of a book, titled, “The Laser Odyssey.”

Thomas Harold Maiman died on May 5, 2007, in Vancouver, British Columbia.

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