Laser: The Inventor, the Noble Laureate, and the Thirty-Year Patent War (Paperback)
by Nick Taylor
A great book. Additionally, I think, if we are to be fair and accurate in presenting laser history, we need to mention ALL the individuals involved in the process. We give credit to some, but perhaps not the first to accomplish this amazing and daunting task. Reading this one will give you a whole new appreciation for what we now use in our everyday lives.
Additional excellent reading for completeness:
How the Laser Happened: Adventures of a Scientist (Paperback)
by Charles H. Townes
The Laser Odyssey (Hardcover)
by Theodore Maiman
( you might want to bring a copy of this one to the Institute for Advanced Laser Dentistry/ Dental Town Meeting for Ted to sign!)
Lasers and Light (Paperback)
by A.L. Schawlow (Editor)
Additionally, there are others that are related to specific wavelengths and their invention as well as applications. Laser History is a fascinating study, and gives a whole new appreciation for how research occurs, science develops, politics in the educational setting, and patent protection. As always, attorneys find their way into the playing field.