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.
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.
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.
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.