We describe design and performance of novel, electrically pumped, vertical compound cavity semiconductor lasers emitting at 980 nm. The laser combines a vertical cavity semiconductor laser with a partially reflecting output coupler and an external cavity for mode control. The concept is scalable and has been demonstrated in monolithic low power (few miliwatts) devices all the way to high power extended cavity devices which generate over 950 mW CW multimode power and 0.5 W CW power in a TEM00 mode, the latter with 90% coupling efficiency into a single mode telecommunication fiber. The concept has been applied to the development of uncooled lasers, mounted in TO-56 cans, capable of producing 50 to 100 mW of fiber-coupled power. We have also demonstrated the extended cavity lasers at wavelengths of 920 nm and 1064 nm. We present reliability data for the chips used in the extended cavity lasers.© (2003) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.