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In memoriam: Leo Beiser, expert in laser scanning

Beiser's Holofacet Optical Scanner is in the Smithsonian

06 November 2013

Leo BeiserLeo Beiser, a laser scanning expert, died in July in New York. He was active in SPIE from the early 1970s and chaired annual conferences on the topic. He was symposium chair of OE/LASE (forerunner to Photonics West) in 1989. He also taught a short course on laser scanning at SPIE meetings for many years, and served on the society's Board of Governors.

As a regular contributor to the SPIE newspaper OE Reports, Leo wrote a monthly column called Laser Scanning Notebook. Each month's column was published in an 8-1/2 x 11-inch format so that it could be cut out and compiled into a booklet. In fact, the published booklet is still available from SPIE. (Laser Scanning Notebook contents)

For his dedication and ongoing contributions to SPIE, Beiser was named a Fellow of the Society in 1982. He also received the society's George W. Goddard Award in 1991, for his significant contributions to the development of laser beam scanning and recording.

Prior to forming his consultation and research company, Leo Beiser Inc., in 1976, Beiser served as staff scientist and director of the Dennis Gabor Laboratory for Advanced Image Technology at CBS Laboratories in Stamford, Connecticut (1963-1976). In 1973, he received the IR-100 award (now called the R&D 100) for his "Holofacet Optical Scanner Apparatus," a milestone invention now in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Institution. His was the author of Holographic Scanning (1988) and Unified Optical Scanning Technology (2003), published by John Wiley & Sons. He was also an adjunct professor at the Institute of Imaging Science, Polytechnic University in New York.

While Staff Scientist at CBS Labs he developed the first real-time laser color film recorder. During this time of the advent of laser technology he created the body of knowledge for authoring a pioneering chapter: "Laser Scanning Systems" in Laser Applications, Vol. 2, (1974, Academic Press). This provided a mathematically rigorous treatise on how to use the efficient coherent laser beam to provide high-resolution two-dimensional display of laser-based imagery. It essentially became the recipe for any laser image display activity and led into the field of optics with all the complex aspects of laser-beam interaction with optical systems such as pre-objective, objective and post-objective scanning.

Beiser received bachelor and masters degrees in physics from Hofstra University, graduated with honors from the E.E. course of RCA insitutes, and also completed laser courses at UCLA. His affiliations included membership in the OSA and SMPTE; he was a Fellow and former Governor of SPIE, and Fellow and former Regional Director of the SID. In 1978, he was honored with the SID Special Recognition Award for outstanding contributions to laser scanning and recording. He was holder of more than 50 patents in laser scanning technology.

Leo and his wife Edith loved the theater and concert stage and Leo also played piano by ear. In his military service he drew cartoons which were published in the Armed Forces Journal. He also was an amateur painter, and painted in color despite his color-blindness. He was preceded in death by his wife Edith and is survived by his daughter Helene and son Steve.

Thanks to Siegfried Mohr for valuable assistance with details of Leo Beiser's accomplishments.

Ted Saito and Leo Beiser, SPIE Goddard Award presentation 1991

SPIE President Ted Saito presented the Goddard Award to Leo Beiser in 1991.