The Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) at SLAC is the world's first hard X-ray free electron laser (FEL). This remarkable machine, that lased at first attempt in April 2009, has a spectral brightness a billion times greater than any extant synchrotron source, producing pulses of spatially coherent hard X-radiation with durations of order 100-fsec to as short as below 10-fsec at 120 Hz, with upto several mJ energies per pulse. LCLS became a full user facility just a few months after commissioning, and has already produced significant new science. We briefly describe how an FEL works and provide an overview of the present world landscape for FELs. Then the details of the LCLS and its early operation will be described along with science highlights from early operations. Finally, the future both near and long term for LCLS will be discussed.