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The incorporation of intentional strain in heterostructure lasers was almost unheard of a decade ago or so and considered a problem to be avoided. Advances in both epitaxial crystal growth technology and the understanding of the physics and reliability of these materials have led to a remarkable increase in the commercial use of strained-layer lasers. The industry has benefited from an increase in the available range of emission wavelengths from quantum-well diode lasers and dramatic improvement in their time-zero performance. In the paper, we review the characteristics of strained-layer InGaAs quantum-well heterostructure lasers that have resulted in the emergence of this important technology.