The laser was invented 50 years ago, in 1960. To celebrate this landmark anniversary,
France launched the “Year of the Laser” at the Palais de la Découverte science and
technology museum in Paris on January 7.
Charles Townes, Theodore Mainman and other pioneers in the United States began developing the “LASER” (light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation) in about 1960, with initial applications targeting the defense and space sectors. Charles Townes was awarded the 1964 Nobel Prize in Physics (along with two Russians, Basov and Prokhorov). That same year Onera acquired its first laser, becoming one of the pioneers in the development of this technology. Jean-Pierre Taran, a research engineer at the time and now High Scientific Advisor to Onera, worked with Townes in the United States for two years. After returning to France, in 1969 he began to build and operate a number of innovative laser-based measurement instruments.