Ever since the first free-electron laser (FEL) was both conceived and demonstrated in the 1970s at Stanford, it has attracted much attention as a promising foundation for a high average power light source. Since its light is produced from free electrons, an FEL can be designed to lase at virtually any wavelength. Furthermore, since its light is generated from a relativistic beam that is continually replenished, its gain medium cannot be damaged by any conventional means. Accordingly, as there have been several ambitious attempts to design and construct high average power FELs over the past several decades, we chronicle some of these efforts. Additionally, we provide an overview of FEL technology and theory, discuss some of the obstacles that remain in the construction of a high-power FEL, and provide a road map toward a megawatt-class device.