Since the commercialization of Vertical Cavity Surface Emitting Lasers (VCSELs) in 1996, Finisar's Advanced Optical Components Division has shipped well over 50 Million VCSELs. The vast majority of these were shipped into the data communications industry, which was essentially the only volume application until 2005. The driver for VCSEL manufacturing might well shift to the increasingly popular laser based optical mouse. The advantages of the laser based mouse over traditional LED mice include operation on a wider range of surfaces, higher resolution, and increased battery lifetime. What is the next application that will drive growth in VCSELs? This paper will offer a historical perspective on the emergence of VCSELs from the laboratory to reality, and the companies that have played key roles in VCSEL commercialization. Furthermore, a perspective on the market needs of future VCSEL development and applications is described.© (2007) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.