This paper gives the history of the invention and development of early high power lasers, to which the author contributed and had personal knowledge. The earliest hint that a high power laser could be built came from the electric CO2-N2-He laser of Javan. It happened that the director of the Avco-Everett Research Laboratory had written his Ph.D. dissertation on the deactivation of the vibrational excitation of N2 in an expanding flow under Edward Teller, then at Columbia Univ. The director then started an in-house project to determine if gain could be achieved in a mixture similar to Javan's by means of a shock tunnel where a shock heated mixture of N2, CO2, and He gas was expanded through a supersonic nozzle into a cavity. This concept was named by the author as the gasdynamic laser (GDL). The paper traces the history of the initial gain measurements, the Mark II laser, the RASTA laser, the Tri-Service laser, its troubles and solutions, the United Technology's XLD gasdynamic laser, and their ALL laser. The history of the coastal Crusader will also be mentioned. Also discussed are the early experiments on a combustion-driven chemical laser, and its subsequent rejection by the director.