The history of commercial holography is peppered with a multitude of innovations that have taken the technique of wavefront reconstruction from the laboratory to our smartphones. In this timeline, we have selected the key milestones that charter the course of this incredible method that has found so many industrial, scientific, medical, artistic and commercial applications.
Hungarian scientist Denis Gabor invents holography (for which he is awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1971) while working at the British-Thomson-Houston Co.; he made two-dimensional (flat image) holograms with a mercury arc lamp using exposures of many hours.
Yuri Denisyuk at the Vavilov State Optical Institute in Leningrad invented volume holography, the process used to make white light reflection holograms. He also used mercury arc lamps as the light source. Prof Denisyuk was awarded the Lenin Prize in 1970 (roughly the Soviet equivalent of the Nobel Prize).
Theodore H Maiman at Hughes Research Laboratories made the first device for light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation – or laser, providing a more powerful source of the coherent, monochrome light required to produce holograms.
Emmett Leith and Juris Upatnieks of the University of Michigan gradually invent the off-axis reference beam technique, using a laser very soon after its invention to make the first laser transmission hologram in 1962.
Roy Worthington and John Winthrop of the University of Michigan develop the Fourier transform hologram.
Adolf Lohmann, University of California, San Diego produces the first computer generated holograms.
Larry Siebert Self-Portrait is the first pulsed hologram human portrait, made at the Conductron holography lab.
Stephen Benton, working at the Polaroid Corporation, invents white light transmission, or rainbow holograms - a technique that allows transmission holograms to be seen in ordinary light.
Bruce Nauman has the first one-person show of holograms at the Nicholas Wilder Gallery in Los Angeles then the Knoedler Gallery in New York.
Margaret Benyon follows with the first one-person show of art holograms in Europe, at the Nottingham University Gallery.
Tiffany’s displays a pulsed laser hologram of a bracelet in its New York shop window, with the image projecting above the sidewalk which gets blocked as people stand and stare at the image.
Mike Foster makes the first mechanically produced hologram, converting the interference lines of a rainbow hologram into a surface relief pattern.
The Museum of Holography was founded in New York as an international centre for the understanding and advancement of holography.
Steve McGrew, working with the Diffraction Company, develops an embossing mass production technique for surface relief holograms.
IBM introduces a supermarket checkout scanner using a holographic optical element.
McGrew invents 2D3D holograms to create layering of flat images, making embossed holograms easier to see in normal ambient light.
MasterCard adds a hologram to its payment cards to combat fraud. The following year Visa follows suit.
Hershey Corp uses a licensed image of ET® on 2D3D hologram stickers as a promotion for its chocolate confectionary, Reese’s Pieces, the first major brand to use a hologram for promotion.
The first International Symposium on Display Holography is held at Lake Forest College, Illinois, organised by Dr Tung Jeong.
A heads-up display (HUD) utilising a holographic combiner is introduced in to the F16 fighter jet. Original suppliers were Hughes Aircraft Corp (Los Angeles) and Pilkington PE (St Asaph, N Wales).
The March issue of National Geographic features a hologram on the front cover. 11 million copies were produced.
Johnnie Walker Scotch whisky is the first major brand to use a hologram to combat product counterfeiting.
Iraq becomes the first country to use a hologram on its standard passport.
American Bank Note Holographics (ABNH) patents hologram demetallisation.
Gietz develops first high speed foil application system for banknotes.
The first Practical Holography conference, held as part of SPIE’s Photonics West Symposium in Los Angeles, California.
First issue of Holography News®.
Glaxo becomes the first pharmaceutical company to use holograms for brand protection, on Zantac which was then the world’s best-selling prescription drug brand.
DuPont launches its holographic photopolymer for production of white light reflection, or volume, holograms.
Holograms first appear on banknotes (a Kinegram® on the Austrian 500 schilling and a Catpix™ on the commemorative Australian $10, which itself was the worlds first polymer banknote). Both features were applied as a patch with Gietz equipment.
French airline Air Inter orders HUDs to be fitted on its Airbus aircraft, so HUDs are now standard on most business jets and many airliners, including the Boeing 787.
General Motors fits a holographic HUD in the Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme used as Indy pace cars and in the retail production versions of this car, the first use of an automotive HUD.
Use of Shakespeare stereogram by Applied Holographics PLC on cards used to guarantee cheques in UK.
The first hologram appears on software packaging (Microsoft).
The first holograms appear on driving licences (California) and event tickets (Wembley Stadium).
The inaugural Holo-pack•Holo-print conference (the forerunner to The Holography Conference) takes place - the first event to focus on the commercial aspects of holography.
Digital holography makes its debut in the form of dot matrix holograms.
Applied Holographics and Nimbus develop technique for incorporating holograms within the inner ring of CDs.
The first holographic thread debuts in a banknote (the Finnish 20 markka).
Advanced Deposition Technologies develops HRI coatings.
First all-over transparent hologram on passport (UAE).
Holograms used to protect Nestle coffee – one of the first major authentication applications for an FMCG product.
The IHMA is incorporated as a non-profit organisation following a unanimous vote the previous November.
The Hologram Image Register (HIR) - a secure registry of holographic images - is established by the IHMA to safeguard hologram copyright and underpin the use of holograms in authentication and security printing.
SmithKline Beecham launches Aquafresh® Whitening toothpaste in the USA in a carton covered in holographic laminate, the first time holographic packaging has been used for branding.
Bulgaria becomes the first country to utilise a holographic stripe (LEAD) feature on banknotes (the 20 leva).
The EU introduces the Schengen visa, featuring a Kinegram.
The first tax stamps with holograms are issued (in Romania, followed shortly thereafter by Hungary and Russia).
The first holographic coin – a platinum 10,000 ‘Noble’ for the Isle of Man, minted by Pobjoy Mint – is introduced.
Holograms used to protect merchandise for the Olympic Games in Atlanta.
Novavision granted a patent for in-line direct holographic embossing.
Koenig & Bauer Banknotes Solutions introduces the OptiNota-H® for high-speed application of foil to banknotes.
HoMAI (the Hologram Manufacturers Association of India) formed by nine members and operating in India.
De La Rue introduces wide holographic thread on Singaporean dollar.
Microsoft launches CDs/DVDs with 3DCD all-over holographic images.
The first Indian state (Tamil Nadu) introduces holographic tax stamps for liquor.
Euro banknotes first series issued, with a hologram on all seven denominations.
ICAO security standards specify optically variable devices for travel documents.
Canadian company Ledalite (a subsidiary of Philips Electronics) launches architectural lighting fixtures with MedoOptics® diffusers, the first mass production use of HOEs on luminaires.
Bulgaria becomes the first country to issue paper banknotes with a window, overlaid by a foil stripe including a hologram.
EU sets minimum standards for passports, including the use of an optically variable device or similar.
Gietz launches its Foil Commander high speed roll-to-sheet foil application system.
DuPont Authentication IZON® labels appear on Nokia phone batteries.
China modifies its banknote series to incorporate holographic threads, making this the largest single application in the currency world.
Meditag is launched in Malaysia – the first government programme in the world to mandate hologram serialised labels to protect medicines sold in the country.
Mastercard adopts HoloMag – a holographic magnetic stripe – on its cards, followed the next year by Visa (they were subsequently withdrawn, due to issues with some merchants’ terminals).
Kurz develops demetallisation to register (Kinegram zero.zero).
Koenig & Bauer Banknote Solutions introduces Opti-Windows® – a module for its OptiNota H which enables printers to cut a window in banknote paper and apply a holographic foil.
ISO/IEC 11695-1:2008 defines the physical characteristics of optical memory cards using the holographic recording method.
Kurz launches volume holograms for banknotes (which go on to be used in the new series of Israel and Switzerland).
CCL Secure, producers of Guardian polymer substrate for banknotes, introduces Latitude™, a holographic feature that is incorporated into the polymer and overprinted with metallic ink, rather than applied as a foil.
The Bank of Canada begins the introduction of its new Frontier banknote series – comprising the first polymer banknotes to incorporate holographic stripes within the window.
First release of Google Glass augmented reality (AR) headset which superimposes a computer-generated image onto a user's actual view of the real world. AR devices often use the term ‘hologram’ to describe the heightened visual reality they provide.
AM-PG launches Vero Code, an advanced 2D data matrix code that can be serialised and incorporated in security holograms.
ISO-14298 published, setting out requirements for a security printing management system for security printers, which includes raw material and device suppliers.
Advanced Track and Trace (ATT) and Andrews & Wykeham develop HoloSeal, a holographic version of ATT’s anti-copy and batch serialisation capable Seal Vector, on holograms.
HoMAI renamed as Authentication Solution Providers’ Association (ASPA).
WiMi Hologram Cloud, provider of augmented reality based holographic products, founded in Beijing, China. By March 2021, the company had raised $83.8 million in funding.
Pre-production version of Microsoft’s HoloLens mixed reality (MR) head-mounted display smart glasses ships. MR devices often use the term ‘hologram’ to describe the heightened visual reality they provide and use diffractive optics as a waveguide in the headset.
Holoxica creates the first 3D digital holographic display of the human brain's fibre pathways and connections from a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan, paving the way for the use of holography in medical imaging and diagnostics.
SURYS launches OptoFoils, combining encrypted holograms and smartphone authentication.
ThinFilm and Holoptica develop holographic label with integrated NFC tag.
De La Rue acquires DuPont Authentication for $25 million.
BMW demonstrates HoloActive Touch, a free-floating virtual projected control system, at CES.
API invests $8.5 million in North American Centre of Packaging Excellence in Lawrence, Kansas.
WayRay, a Swiss developer of holographic augmented reality (AR) technology for internet-connected cars raises an additional $80 million in finance to bring holographic AR displays to production.
Microsoft wins $479.2 million contract to provide US soldiers with prototype augmented reality headsets (HoloLens)
The Looking Glass Factory develops the Looking Glass– the world’s first desktop interactive holographic display for creators of 3D content that requires no virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR) headgear.
API Group launches plastics-free holographic laminate.
Microsoft Introduces HoloLens2 - using holographic waveguide optics to allow an operator to view computer-generated 3D graphics superimposed onto their visual environment.
Silicon Valley start-up DigiLens announces full-colour eyeglass display using holographic waveguides for augmented reality (AR) displays.
Tetra Pak, the multinational food and beverage packaging company, launches holographic packaging called Tetra Pak® Reflect in India. The new package is designed to help food and beverage brands add a new eye-catching dimension to their packs.
US start-up company Light Field Labs announces it had raised $28 million in funding for its technology to build large holographic displays without the need for head gear.
The Holography Conference moves online in partnership with the IHMA to accommodate restrictions on travel caused by the COVID pandemic.
Envisics raises $50 million in a series B round of funding for its holographic technology that projects head-up display (HUD) images of mapping, navigation guidance and hazard warnings into the driver’s direct line of sight.
Avalon Holographics releases a 29” Light Field Display Development System (LFDDS) that creates a shared viewing experience for multiple users in real-time and with both vertical and horizontal parallax - without the need for accessories such as glasses or headsets.
Technology giant Apple is granted a US patent showing how cameras on the augmented reality wearable Apple Glass could record the real world around the wearer and then use that information to create holograms.
Snap Inc, the NYSE-listed software company behind photo messaging app Snapchat, acquired UK-based WaveOptics in a deal reportedly worth more than $500 million.
The KURZ Group acquired the scribos brand protection division of the adhesive tape giant, tesa, to work against the growing threat of product and brand piracy.
IDEMIA launches LASINK™ Helios, a new security feature based on optically variable elements, that combines colour personalisation and DOVID technologies to secure secondary portraits.
The Hologram Image Register (HIR), operated by the International Hologram Manufacturers Association (IHMA), reaches 10,000 registrations.
75th anniversary of the granting of patent GB685286, which names Dennis Gabor as the inventor and the British Thomson-Houston company as the assignee of a technique for improving the resolution of electron microscopes, which lay the foundation for Gabor’s later invention of holography.