When laser technology was first developed in 1960, manufacturers scrambled to discover practical uses. The first grade laser, using an electronically oscillated transit, was workable in the 1960s. The first adjustable machine control and rod mounted laser receivers appeared at the same time. Self-leveling lasers followed by 1973.

Lasers have revolutionized measurement and grade setting on jobsites.
Lasers have revolutionized measurement and grade setting on jobsites.

The 1980s saw numerous developments as machine control became more refined and specific systems for specific machines became the norm. Road graders were controlled with a sonic sensor to provide height and line control simultaneously. The first visible laser diode took over the prominence of the helium-neon tube as it offered lower pricing and a self-contained power supply.

The 1990s began a wave of technology that dramatically downsized the equipment. Laser models began the transition to onboard power. This technology pioneered the first hand-held laser distance meter. Measured data transferred wirelessly to a PDA or directly to a laptop.

At the turn of the century, the laser revolution continued to spread. Increased production, greater accuracy, and lower material costs have been the benefits. The inherent precision of lasers has made a tremendous impact on all involved in concrete construction.

—John Schultz

Read more highlights from 50 Years of Concrete Construction Progress.