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My First Laser & Holography Kit
When I was in 8th grade (1981) I took a trip to Bellmawr, NJ (not far from Edmund Scientifics) to buy my first laser from Metrologic Instruments. Back then, laser diodes didn't put out much power so helium neon was the only practical option I could afford from delivering Pennysavers and newspapers.
The laser in this photo is a modulated laser which means that you could plug in a crystal microphone and talk over the beam of laser light. I purchased this one, and a few months later I purchased polarized laser, to make holograms in my basement.
Originally, I intended to build a sandbox to make the holograms but I found a clearance holography kit at Edmund Scientifics. The kit was basically 2' x 2' piece of black Plexiglass on black foam with some screw holes to hold an optical diffuser (not a lens), front surface mirror, and film holder.
My first hologram was my best because I didn't know that you shouldn't recycle photographic developer chemicals. It was a hologram of Boggle cubes (dies with letters on each side) that misspelled Hologram. (I originally spelled it correctly, but when I moved the holography kit to the darkroom lab I hastily set up the cubes incorrectly.)
I was definitely the only kid in school who owned a laser... actually two lasers.