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There was a second problem that was still not a technical problem... the project became classified. I couldn't work on it after having gone to all that trouble. I was considered a security risk, so I could not get a clearance.
The real technical problems came because people working on the project didn't really follow my proposal at all, but set out to do other things instead of making a laser.
That attitude does not exist so much today, but in those days there was a very sharp distinction between basic physics and applied physics. Columbia did not deal with applied physics.
Just think, if I had understood my lawyer and if he and I had communicated properly in January 1958, this whole history would have been entirely different .
I would have had my patent long, long ago, and it would have run out long, long ago. I would have made, maybe, $100.000, much less that the patent has brought me now.
But certainly the laser proved to be what I realized it was going to be. At that moment in my life I was too ignorant in business law to be able to do it right, and if I did it over again probably the same damn thing would happen.
Dealing With Death
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