In the 1964 adaptation of the James Bond novel "Goldfinger", in a famous scene, Bond is bound to a table and threatened to be cut in half by a powerful laser that Goldfinger later uses to break into Fort Knox (while in the novel it was a table saw, apparently). The first operational laser was built in 1960, only four years prior to the films release. It seems astonishing to me that in such a short amount of time the technology made its way into popular movies already.
Was a laser a well-known concept to the public by then? Would a laser that somebody with enough funds could build in the early 1960s be able to cut/melt metal? Or was the use of the laser in the movie seen as a futuristic "spy movie gadget"?