The evolution of the vacuum coating industry is reviewed. Vacuum science progressed slowly until the late
nineteenth century due to an incomplete understanding of vacuum and lack of applications. Edison's invention
of the light bulb launched the vacuum industry and increased developmentof improved vacuum systems. The
thin film optical coating industry arose from the needs of the German and U.S. military efforts during World War
II. The author presents his experience in thin film coating from 1939 to the present.