During the Second World War, the Allies had always been somewhat inferior to the Soviet Union in terms of defences. In fact, while their pillboxes and turrets were effective, they were not nearly as powerful as Soviet Tesla coils that were potent enough to decimate the Allied tank divisions. The Soviets later in the war also ported their Tesla technology on wheels, in the form of Tesla tanks, and later started using soldiers called shock troopers that used a Tesla rifle.
After the war, the weakness of Allied defences compared to the Soviet ones was noted, and Albert Einstein, to counter the Soviet Tesla technology, developed the prism beam. The prism beam was a form of laser which utilized the principle of reflection and dispersion to damage targets. The technology's application was seen in the prism tower and the prism tank, each using the reflective properties of prism technology differently. Prism towers, for instance, were able to synchronize with other nearby prism towers and precisely reflect their beams into a single focal point, producing a prism beam with the combined power of all the towers involved. This way, placing multiple towers close to each other would result in an exponentially stronger beam; in fact, if enough towers were erected, the combined beam could be strong enough to destroy the heavily armoured Apocalypse tank in one strike.
Prism tanks, however, fired a somewhat less concentrated beam that could disperse slightly off of targets, creating a branching net of smaller beams that caused small amounts of damage to other targets surrounding the primary. Because of this, when multiple prism tanks fired on a group of smaller enemies such as infantry, the effect was a devastating web of lasers, each one ricocheting from one soldier and striking down the ones around him. Against a mere handful of these tanks, a massed swarm of infantry stood little chance. This "branching" effect was even more potent against buildings, with laser beams bouncing around inside the infrastructure and tearing it apart from the inside; a group of only five prism tanks was more than enough to destroy a construction yard in a single barrage.
Prism technology had different effects on different targets depending on how the beam was utilized. Prism towers, for instance, countered infantry and vehicles well, but lacked the branching effect of prism tanks, forcing them to concentrate on one target at a time. Prism tanks were potent against buildings and infantry, but favoured poorly against any well-armoured vehicle, which could shrug off the major brunt of the beams' effect.
Prism technology was developed during GWIII, when the Soviets invaded the United States of America. The first device to use prism technology was the prism tower, a defence inspired by the Soviet Tesla coil. Multiple prism towers were erected near the Pentagon, still under Allied control by the time of Operation: Liberty, to defend it from Soviet assaults. The prism towers performed well and the Allied leaders decided to distribute them to the other Allied commanders. Later, Allied engineers transferred the technology to a wheeled chassis and developed the prism tank, a long range unit which was extremely effective against enemy buildings and infantry.
The Soviets were once again impressed by this new weapon and decided to acquire it. The Soviets captured an American base in California where the prism technology had been tested and stole the existing prototypes in the hopes of reverse-engineering the technology. Their research facility was in the ruined Mayan city of Tulum in the Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico, deep inside the Soviet lines. A team of Navy SEALs was sent to the location to destroy the prism towers created by the Soviets.
Prism technology was apparently independently developed by Nod by 2074 as an upgrade for the DS-7 Obelisk of Light in time for the Fourth Tiberium War. It takes the form of a "prism crystal" that allows the laser beam produced by the "Anubis" Class VII laser to "prism" (split apart) upon contact with the enemy to strike multiple foes, overcoming a key weakness of prior Obelisks.