The copper laser has undergone 20 years of development since first demonstrated in 1966 by Walter et al.1 The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, funded by the Department of Energy, has participated in copper-laser development since 1974 for application in atomic vapor laser isotope separation (AVLIS). Separation of isotopes from a uranium vapor stream using lasers requires several unique properties from the laser system. We have chosen copper-laser-pumped dye lasers as our baseline technology for this process. We discuss the operating characteristics of the copper laser with emphasis on suitability for AVLIS. These characteristics include: average power, pulse-repetition rate, optical pulse length, and electrical to optical efficiency. In the past 3 years, we have designed, built, and are at present running the Laser Demonstration Facility continuously. This facility has over 40 copper lasers. We discuss the copper-laser system as an extension of the operating characteristics of a single copper laser. Copper-laser oscillator amplifier chains, beam quality, and refurbish ent cycles are discussed. The overview is divided into five sections: an introduction to AVLIS, laser requirements for AVLIS, copper-laser chains, system maintenance and refurbishment, and conclusions.