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HRL Designated a Physics Historic Site by the American Physical Society During 50th Anniversary of the Laser

MALIBU, Calif., May 16, 2010—HRL Laboratories, LLC, formerly Hughes Research Laboratories, will be designated a Physics Historic Site by the American Physical Society (APS) as the location where the first working laser was demonstrated 50 years ago.

On May 16, 1960 Hughes physicist Dr. Theodore Maiman and his colleagues Drs. Irnee D'Haenens and Charles Asawa successfully powered up the first working laser comprised of a rod of ruby crystal with reflectors at each end surrounded by a three-loop flashlamp.

The invention led to a billion-dollar rangefinding business for Hughes and significant advances in science, communications, manufacturing, medicine and defense.

APS will present a plaque documenting the historic moment: "At this laboratory Theodore H. Maiman and co-workers constructed the world's first working laser on May 16, 1960. Made of synthetic ruby, it was the harbinger of a technological revolution that has forever changed the world."

APS created the Historic Sites Initiative in October 2004 to raise public awareness of physics. Other APS historic sites include Bell Laboratories, The Franklin Institute and MIT Radiation Laboratory. Jefferson Laboratory at Harvard University will also be honored in 2010.

A number of laboratories were attempting to demonstrate the laser concept in the late 1950s because the potential of the technology was enormous, projecting the radio spectrum "into a range some ten thousand times higher than that which was previously attainable," Theodore Maiman said at a press conference announcing his breakthrough in July 1960. "Its success marks the opening of an entirely new era in electronics."

Maiman’s complete remarks and other historical documents and information are posted on HRL’s website at

HRL is a corporate partner in LaserFest (, a year-long celebration of laser innovation.


HRL Laboratories, LLC, Malibu, California ( is a corporate research-and-development laboratory owned by The Boeing Company and General Motors specializing in research into sensors and materials, information and systems sciences, applied electromagnetics, and microelectronics. HRL provides custom research and development and performs additional R&D contract services for its LLC member companies, the U.S. government, and other commercial companies.

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