|Lightsabers were first developed by the Jedi in an attempt to turn traditional ceremonial swords of the order into more powerful weapons using advanced technology of the age. The first models were successful in "freezing" a laser beam, by focusing a beam of energy circumferentially back to the source. They were, however, highly unstable, using astonishing amounts of power which caused them to overheat after a few minutes, and were seldom used. Over time, these faults were corrected in the form of protosabers. While protosabers were combat-capable, they required wielders to carry heavy belt-mounted power packs to meet the weapon's high energy requirement. To add insult to injury, the cable connecting the power source to the hilt of the sabre also restricted manoeuvrability, further limiting the weapon's capabilities.|
It was the Sith Empire that provided the next major genesis by introducing an integrated power cell that transformed the cumbersome protosaber into an efficient, graceful and powerful weapon: the modern lightsaber. The lightsaber revolutionized Force users' combat strategies through the use of Force-powered attacks and telekinetic control. Following its success with the Sith, the design was quickly adopted throughout the Jedi Order and the majority of protosabers were upgraded with the new technology. The lightsaber soon became a weapon of both respect and fear, and an icon to the galaxy.
A typical lightsaber consists of a power cell, at least one crystal, multiple focusing lenses, and blade emitter all contained within a hilt customized to the owner's grip and style. The colour, length, and quality of the blade are determined by the combination of these materials. Due to the unique nature of each lightsaber, lightsaber construction can often take months while the necessary gems and parts are gathered to cater to its user's needs.
The short lightsaber, also know as the shoto, is a variation of the standard lightsaber. A shoto is almost exactly the same as a regular lightsaber with one difference: its size. Shotos have a smaller hilt and a drastically shorter blade than regular lightsabers. These lightsabers are most commonly used by dual-blade wielders, specifically Force users who used the Niman or Jar'Kai forms of lightsaber combat. Masters of these forms of combat are able to overpower opponents quickly by delivering a large number of blows in a very short amount of time. Short lightsabers are also used by races with a short stature who would find normal lightsabers uncomfortable and clumsy.
Focus, control and strength are required to wield a lightsaber; the weightless plasma contained within the lightsaber generates a gyroscopic effect, making the blade difficult to control. Wielding two short lightsabers is therefore considerably more difficult than wielding a single regular lightsaber and in unskilled hands the weapons can be fatal to their user and anyone in their vicinity. Shotos are rarely constructed and even harder to find, as most Force Sensitives prefer either the regular or double bladed lightsaber.