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Thread: First Commercial Carbon Dioxide Laser

  1. #1

    Default First Commercial Carbon Dioxide Laser

    I was just cleaning up an old Apollo CO2 laser head and doing a bit of research into the company, and found a quote from Dr. Fred Burns (Apollo's president) claiming the first commercial CO2 laser ("before Coherent"). This didn't ring right with me so I looked into it and sure enough, I found older. The first as far as I can tell was the Perkin-Elmer model 6200, shown here in its introduction in The Laser Letter of February 1966.

    I think Dr. Burns may have been a little confused when the interview I referred to was conducted with him in 1987. Coherent didn't introduce their first laser, the model 40, until December of 1966. The earliest reference to a laser made by Apollo I can find is their model X sealed tube CO2 system, introduced in August 1969 (also in The Laser Letter). In the same interview (linked below), Dr. Burns suggests that Apollo was formed in 1968 and describes the funding structure at the beginning.

    He also claims the first commercial pulsed argon ion laser, and I know that to be the 1964 Raytheon model LG-12. Anyway, it WAS the '60s!

    http://www.aip.org/history/ohilist/4545.html

    Attachment 42102


    P.S. Is this an extreme case of necroposting?
    Last edited by Eidetic; 02-02-2014 at 12:49.

  2. #2

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    Here's the 1984 Apollo XATF CO2 head I just cleaned up. It's a flowing gas tube, through the connections at the rear. There's a water jacket around the plasma tube that's plugged by yellow caps, that's still full of very clean water. Zn-Se mirrors on ball joints with Torr-Seal. Germanium? (GaAs?) lenses in the focusing attachment.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  3. #3
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    Is it in working condition still? I'd love to see a picture of the output if possible

  4. #4

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    Probably works, but the output is at 10.6 microns and invisible. At about 10W+, it would melt plexiglas pretty well and probably do good at burning wood. I'll be posting pics of the whole system later.

  5. #5
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    Cool old laser! I would like to see a photo of the Perkin Elmer 6200. I'm pretty sure I had one a long time ago.

  6. #6

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    Here it is:
    Click image for larger version. 

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  7. #7

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    Here's the old Apollo model XATF Laser Trimmer system mentioned above. The plasma tube has a sticker that dates it at 1984, but I think this system is much older with a replaced tube. I love the cool counter knobs! The translating stage moves sideways and the knob on the left lifts the clamping support on the right. Neat old system I put off buying on Ebay for more than a year. The seller finally accepted a reasonable offer for it and a 1998 Coherent General model 14 Nd:Glass welding laser featuring a large rectangular rod and enormously large and heavy power supply.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eidetic View Post
    Here it is:
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Yes that's it! I had that exact laser, stored in my warehouse for many years in the 70's and 80's. A very handsome (and heavy) machine. It was a free-flowing gas laser. Three of the needle valve micrometer knobs on the front allowed control of the CO2, helium, nitrogen mix from seperate bottles or the fourth knob for a tank of pre-mix. Produced almost 20W. I think I donated it to Texas State Technical College LEOT program. Who would have thought these old lasers would be worth something someday as a collectable antique? So many were scrapped. Keep up the good work!

  9. #9
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    Well this thread is a blast from the past. I've enjoyed gawking at the pictures. I worked at Apollo Lasers from '79 to '82 and assembled scores and scores of CO2 lasers (10W to 80W). Also dabbled a bit with ruby and glass lasers. As far as that Fred Burns interview quoted by the OP goes, I'd have to agree that some of Burns' time line recollections are in error. But ya really can't fault Burns, he was well into his 70's when that interview was recorded. Nevertheless, it's still a good chronicle of the Wild West Days of laserdom.

  10. #10

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    Great hearing from an old-timer! I've seen an ad for Apollo Lasers in the January 1974 issue of Laser Focus that shows a head exactly like the one on this system. Do you think this is a system from the '70s with a new tube inside?

    Also, what's up with the sealed water jacket? Never saw that before, and there's no plugged holes to allow potential water supply hoses to go out of the head. Got me scratching my head! Anyway, I LOVE those adjustment knobs on the power supply. Especially the type with the numbers displayed in the hub of the knob.

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