History of the Optical Society: Origins and Roots Do Matter

When I was asked to write a historical sketch of contributions the Optical Society had made to programs in the defense industry which depend on optical techno logy, it seemed far too monumental a task too undertake. It was not a quest ion of whether or not important contributions had been made by the optical community, but rather how to extract from the voluminous record any sort of balanced account. More over, it is the accomplishment of members much more than those of the organization which really matter, though I did recall how often I had heard members talk of the special role the society had played in their own professional lives. As I reflected further, I also realized how much there was in the history of the society, in its roots, in its style, in the pattern of its development, and in its management actions, that provided key underpinnings for these accomplishments. Here, I thought, was an important story I might attempt to summarize.

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