Whinnery, John R., National Medal of Science, 1992
The digital computer and laser powered fiber optic communication
"I imagine that the majority of responses has named the digital computer
as the artifact that represents the country at the end of the 20th century. Its networks have had and will continue to have a profound influence on all aspects of our society, so I could not disagree with that choice. But if a second development were to be named, I would choose the laser.
This was a brilliant invention and has had application to
telecommunications, medicine, defense, entertainment, precision measurement and fundamental study of materials."