By Patricia Daukantas
A longtime friend of mine recently cleaned out an old pile of paperwork and found a small treasure, which he passed along to me. It’s the advance program for CLEO—in 1983.
Twenty-five years ago, the Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics took place in Baltimore, as it has in most odd-numbered years since (and will again in 2009). In 1983, the Baltimore Convention Center was only four years old, and the neighboring attractions around the city’s Inner Harbor were even newer.
I’ve been told that one of the reasons we’ve made Baltimore our unofficial East Coast home for CLEO is that the convention center’s proximity to the waterfront makes it easier to get the large temporary flows of water that are needed by water-cooled lasers on the exhibit floor. That’s become less of an issue over the years as laser technology has changed, but the harbor still sits nearby, just in case.
Some names have changed since 1983—the IEEE Quantum Electronics and Applications Society became the IEEE Lasers and Electro-Optics Society (LEOS) two years later. But I also spy familiar names in the 25-year-old program. For instance, one of the general co-chairs of CLEO 1983 was Tingye Li, who went on to become OSA president in 1995, and the 1983 CLEO treasurer was Gary C. Bjorklund, who served as OSA president in 1998. Then-future Nobel laureate William D. Phillips was the lead author on an invited paper describing the laser cooling of an atomic beam to 70 mK.
CLEO has certainly gotten bigger since 1983. The advance program lists five or six concurrent technical sessions at any given time. This year, CLEO and its sister conference, Quantum Electronics and Laser Science (QELS), ran as many as 13 concurrent sessions, with the Photonic Applications, Systems and Technologies (PhAST) meeting adding one more track. Twenty-five years ago, the CLEO exhibit hall had about 160 exhibitors; this year there were more than 350.
Graphic design has certainly gotten more colorful over the years (see above). Longtime OSA volunteers may wax nostalgic over the Jefferson Place address on the cover of the advance program. The Society moved out of that brownstone into larger digs back in 1990.
One of the interesting—but hardly surprising—things about the 1983 advance program booklet is the total absence of electronic addresses. Tim Berners-Lee’s invention of the World Wide Web’s protocol was six years in the future, and computer networks were still small and comparatively disconnected from each other. The CLEO 1983 advance program specifies that authors of postdeadline submissions would get their acceptance or rejection notifications by telephone.
Longtime OSA journal editor and OPN contributing editor John N. Howard compiled some interesting notes about other Society conferences of the 1970s and 1980s in this column from the April 2007 issue of OPN. We’d love to get comments from anyone who remembers the 1983 CLEO or other OSA meetings from that era.