According to Gizmodo, the first obstacle Carter had to overcome wasn’t the Empire, but a federal law forbidding folks from pointing lasers at each other. So he found a way to work around that. Then Carter needed a name, but his lawyer wanted to avoid a generic one that could potentially hurt the chances of getting a patent. So he went with the name “Photon.”
The technical side was no piece of cake, either. “The guy who did most of our software had done real-time programming for satellites. I gave them the general concept. They wrote the code and built the system” Carter said to the Dallas Morning News.
A Photon location opened up in Dallas in 1984. The official Laser Tag Museum runs it down for us: “Customers, entering entering directly from parking lot sidewalks, find themselves in the lobby where passports are required by the Photon computers and tickets for play can be purchased. In the Photon staging area, players don their Photon equipment and wait their turns to enter the actual playing area.
There was also an “Earth Port Observation Deck” overlooking the 10,000 square foot facility. Players ran through a maze of tunnels, battlements, and walkways amidst an assault of light, sound, and fog.
Now would you have been geeked up after reading that back then, or what? The museum also notes what combatants got in the 13-pound gear set when they mixed it up:
• A helmet that included radio frequency receivers and signal lights that let the helmet wearer know he/she has been “zapped” and “momentarily disrupted.”
• A “Photon Phaser” which uses a light beam to score on your opponent and on the opposition’s home base goal.
• A “Photon Control Module.” This contains micro-processor chips that link with the game’s computers, keeping track on who has been hit and when.
• A power pack that makes it all go.
It looked like Carter had a high-tech cowboys and Indians or cops and robbers hit on his hands.
Photon is a classic example of synergy. Carter saw one thing on big screen, but his imagination took it from the world of fantasy to one of zapping reality. And there’s a Fleetwood Mac connection to the entire story as well.