The Coalition for Optics and Photonics (CPO) happened for all the best of reasons, while born out of a somewhat tumultuous past that could not have predicted it. First, there were optical societies. Born from each other, or because of each other, they had their own agendas. Each felt strongly that they had the one and only right path. There was little cooperation and even, from time to time, some non-constructive competition among the professional societies and trade associations. The optical industry was still in its infancy stage for the most part. It was probably due to the combination of intelligent people from all societies, and the rapid growth of the industry and their conferences that made some coordination necessary. What started as high-level discussions, complete with some staff, led to a better understanding and cooperation between the societies and preceded the formation of CPO.