Holography: a History (and a Future?) of Expansion

Johnston, S. F. (2006) Holography: a History (and a Future?) of Expansion. Holopack-Holoprint Conference 2006, Vienna, Austria, 15-17 Nov 2006. (Unpublished)

Full text not currently available from Enlighten.


Holography, now in its sixtieth year, has lessons to teach about commercial innovation. Holograms have always attracted attention, even if many of the potential markets proved to be fickle. Unlike most commercial products, holograms have been repeatedly reinvented by different groups having distinct technical backgrounds and goals. Holography’s commercial failure during the 1950s was due as much to its conception as a complicated adjunct to electron microscopes as to any technical limitations. On the other hand, scientists and engineers of the 1960s, often working for military contractors or corporations, reconceived holograms for optical data processing and interferometry as a profitable tool and business. Artists and artisans during the early 1970s recast holograms into aesthetic products and mass-market objects. And during the 1980s, a new breed of entrepreneur reinvented holograms as a packaging medium, security device and graphic design element. The merging of holographic technology with the printing industry took it in profitable new directions, and the more recent integration with computer-generated imagery has yielded modern holograms that have little in common with the sharp laser-lit images of forty years ago. The one constant in this perennially fresh field, and the element that will ensure its expanding future, is its adaptability to new opportunities. The commercial history of the medium suggests that future innovations will come from unexpected directions – probably unrelated to the contexts of current workers in the field – and will produce unanticipated market niches. Sixty years of innovation suggest that this process is likely to depend less on technological advances than on new visions of what holography can be, and what holograms can do in the marketplace.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Johnston, Professor Sean
Authors: Johnston, S. F.
Subjects:C Auxiliary Sciences of History > C Auxiliary sciences of history (General)
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Q Science > QC Physics
T Technology > TR Photography
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Interdisciplinary Studies

University Staff: Request a correction | Enlighten Editors: Update this record

Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
339051Holography, holographers, and their historySean JohnstonThe Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland (CARNEGIE)UNSPECIFIEDIS - INTERDISCIPLINARY STUDIES
339052Holography, holographers, and their historySean JohnstonBritish Academy (BRIT-ACAD)SG-34511IS - INTERDISCIPLINARY STUDIES
339053Holography, holographers, and their historySean JohnstonShearwater Foundation (SHEARWATER)UNSPECIFIEDIS - INTERDISCIPLINARY STUDIES