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Theodore Harold Maiman
Born July 11, 1927(1927-07-11)
Los Angeles, California
Died May 5, 2007 (aged 79)
Vancouver, British Columbia
Citizenship United States
Fields Physics
Institutions Hughes Research Laboratories
Alma mater University of Colorado
Known for Laser
Notable awards Wolf Prize in Physics (1983)
Japan Prize (1987)

Theodore Harold "Ted" Maiman (July 11, 1927 – May 5, 2007) was an American physicist who made the first laser.[1] Maiman received the Japan Prize in 1987. He was the author of a book titled The Laser Odyssey.

Biography Maiman was born in Los Angeles, California, where in his teens, he earned money for college by repairing electrical appliances and radios.[2] He attended the University of Colorado and received a B.S. in engineering physics in 1949 then went on to do graduate work at Stanford University, where he received an M.S. in electrical engineering in 1951 and a Ph.D. in physics in 1955. His doctoral thesis in experimental physics, taken under the direction of Willis Lamb, involved detailed microwave-optical measurements of fine structure splittings in excited helium atoms.

Maiman's laser, based on a synthetic ruby crystal grown by Dr. Ralph L. Hutcheson, was first operated on 16 May 1960 at Hughes Research Laboratories in Malibu, California.

After leaving Hughes, Maiman joined Quantatron where he was in charge of laser activities. In 1962, Maiman became president of the newly formed Korad Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Union Carbide, which bought the laser assets owned by Quantatron. Korad was devoted to the research, development, and manufacture of lasers. All minority owned stock of Korad Corporation was exchanged for Union Carbide stock during the first five years. Not wishing to continue working for Union Carbide, Maiman formed Maiman Associates in 1968.

Due to his work on the laser, he was twice nominated for a Nobel Prize and was given membership in both the National Academies of Science and Engineering.[3] He received the Oliver E. Buckley Prize in 1966. He was the recipient of the 1983/84 Wolf Prize in Physics, and was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame that same year. Besides, he received F&J. Hertz and Japan Prizes (the Japan Prize is considered equivalent to the Nobel Prize). Many universities awarded him honorary degrees. Maiman received his last honorary degree in 2002 from Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada.

Maiman died from systemic mastocytosis on May 5, 2007 in Vancouver, Canada, where he lived with his wife Kathleen.[4]


  1. ^ U.S. Patent 3,353,115
  2. ^ Johnson, John, Jr. (May 11, 2007). Theodore H. Maiman, at age 32; scientist created the first laser. Los Angeles Times
  3. ^ Douglas Martin (11 May 2007). "Maiman built world's first laser". The New York Times.  
  4. ^ Douglas, Martin (May 11, 2007). Theodore Maiman, 79, Dies; Demonstrated First Laser New York Times

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