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After over two decades of exploration, tunable diode lasers are beginning to find significant applications, driven largely by the huge demand for bandwidth that is guiding many developments in the optical fiber communication business today. In the paper, some of the history and key developments that have led to the technologies available today are reviewed from the perspective of the author. After discussion of some of the early work, the focus shifts to widely tunable diode lasers, which would appear to be key enablers for future dense wavelength-division multiplexing and optical switching and networking systems. The distinguishing characteristics of the current technological alternatives are summarized.