Maiman, Theodore

Maiman, Theodore (Harold)

(1927–  ) physicist, inventor; born in Los Angeles. After serving with the U.S. Navy in World War II, he studied engineering physics at the University of Colorado (B.S. 1949) and took his Ph.D. from Stanford (1955). He joined the Hughes Electronics Research Laboratories in 1955. Charles Townes had proposed the maser in 1951 and by 1954 he and his associates had a working model; in 1958 Townes and Arthur Schawlow proposed an optical maser, or laser. Maiman made some improvements in the solid-state maser, and then, using a synthetic ruby crystal, constructed the first operable laser in 1960. From 1975–83 he was with TRW, where he had responsibility for the development of new technological ventures.