In late 1970s and early ’80s, the United States Army deployed a system using infrared beams for combat training. The MILES system functions like laser tag in that beams are “fired” into receivers that score hits.
Similar systems are now manufactured by several companies and used by various armed forces around the world.
The first known toy to use infrared light and a corresponding sensor was manufactured and marketed in 1979 as the Star Trek Electronic Phaser Guns set.
In 1982, George Carter III began the process of designing an arena-based system for playing a scored version of the game, a possibility which had initially occurred to him in 1977 while watching the film Star Wars Episode IV. The Grand Opening for the first Photon center in Dallas, Texas on March 28, 1984.
Carter was honored by the International Laser Tag Association on November 17, 2005 for his contribution to the laser tag industry. The award is engraved “Presented to George A. Carter III in recognition for being the Inventor and Founder of the laser tag industry”.
In 1986, the first Photon toys hit the market, nearly simultaneously with the Lazer Tag toys from Worlds of Wonder and several other similar infrared and visible light-based toys. Worlds of Wonder went out of business around 1988, and Photon soon followed in 1989, as the fad of the games wore off. Today there are laser tag arenas all over the world bearing various names and brands, as well as a large variety of consumer equipment for home play and professional grade equipment for outdoor laser tag arenas and businesses.
In 2010, a news article appeared claiming that Lee Weinstein developed and opened the first commercial laser tag facility. In June, 2011, the ILTA posted the results of a public record request from the City of Houston showing the opening date for Weinstein’s “Star Laser Force” to have been April 16, 1985.