Fundamental work on the properties of silicon. Ultra-high vacuum technology (spun off from the space race, which they *may* have been involved with. Evidence is inconclusive, but note that a dog was launched at one point.)
The invention of semiconductors. Pushing back the frontiers of battery technology.
There were setbacks, of course. The first lasers were too large, too power-hungry, too easily broken. Grocery checkout scanners. Gun sights. Holographic security stickers. But their steely determination saw them through. They knew what they wanted, and eventually they got it.
Cheap, battery-powered laser pointers.
All hail the cats!