Charles Hard Townes was born on July 28, 1915 in Greenville, South Carolina, United States of America.

From his early days Charles was fascinated by Physics. After completing his Masters degree in Physics at Duke University in 1936, he joined the California Institute of Technology for his PhD, which he received in 1939 for his Thesis on isotope seperation and nuclear spins. From 1933 to 1947 Dr. Townes worked at the Bell Telephone Laboratories.

He was appointed as a faculty member at Columbia University in 1948. Here he continued doing research in microwave physics, particularly the interactions between microwaves and molecules. Dr. Townes got the idea of MASER in 1951.

In 1964 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics jointly with the Russian team of A.M. Prokhorov and N.G. Basov of the Lebedev Institute, for their independent and “fundamental work in the field of quantum electronics, which has led to the construction of oscillators and amplifiers based on the maser-laser principle.”

Prof. Charles Townes delivered the B.M. Birla Memorial Lecture “THE CREATIVE AND UNPREDICTABLE INTERACTION OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY” on January 08, 2003.