In 1988, Toshiba produced the
first commercially available
visible-light laser diode, a breakthrough
that was widely expected
to improve the quality and lower
the cost of construction lasers.
Several companies were launched
to manufacture inexpensive
battery-operated laser levels, but
only one, Laser Tools Co. (12221
Arch Street Pike, Little Rock, AR
72206; 501/888-8831), is still in
the business. (Emerging Technologies,
also of Little Rock, has discontinued
making laser levels but
continues to make laser gun sights,
and T6 Tools, of Chapel Hill,
N.C., has disappeared.) I've had
two of Laser Tools' small, hightech
levels for several months.
Here's what I've learned.
What's in a Laser?
Before laser diodes, most of the
big laser transits used expensive
He-Ne (or "heenie") tube lasers.
These have a fragile