In September 1959, Theodore Maiman attended the first International Quantum Electronics Conference to
present a paper describing an exceptionally compact microwave-emitting ruby maser he had developed at the
Hughes Research Laboratories. On May 16, 1960 he succeeded in demonstrating the first working laser, also
using ruby, a historic breakthrough that stunned others trying to develop a working laser. Maiman's success,
described in my book Beam: The Race to Make the Laser (Oxford, 2005) teaches some important lessons in
taking on challenging optical tasks.
Jeff Hecht, Jeff Hecht,
"Lessons learned: the laser from theory to practice", Proc. SPIE 7071, An Optical Believe It or Not: Key Lessons Learned, 70710J (3 September 2008); doi: 10.1117/12.799654; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.799654