History of fiber optics


Anyone who is interested or has paid close attention to communication and networking technologies knows exactly how meteoric the rise of fiber optic cables has been. They are widely adopted as the most durable, efficient and cost effective alternative to traditional copper cables. Also, these cables are used for various applications including networking, audio and visual setups, etc.

It is clear that most industries and people depend on fiber optic cables for their daily use. However, what is not very clear is how far back their history goes and how we got them.

The concept of light transmission has been around since the 1840s, when inventors Jacques Babinet and Daniel Colladon demonstrated the direction of light by refraction at a distance.

History of fiber optics

Early origin of optical fiber

The history of fiber optics dates back to the 18th century. Fiber optic cables as we know them today did not yet exist, but that was when science pioneers William Wheeler and Alexander Graham Bell began thinking about using speed of light to transmit information.

In the following century, many researchers advanced this idea until in the 20th century, many scientists were looking for patents for fiber optic technologies. During the 1970s and 1980s, non-experimental fiber cables were developed and began to be used by many telephone companies to effectively redesign their communications infrastructure.

What is fiber optic?

Fiber optic communication is a process that transmits huge amounts of information from pulses of infrared light using optical fibers: these are tiny fibers bundled together to form cables (about the size of a human hair).

History of fiber optics

Although the use of fiber optic cables began in the 1970s, the main technology behind it dates back much further. Let’s see the quick summary:

1880: Graham Bell made the optical telephone system, which he called the photophone.

1970s: Researcher Corning Glass first invented fiber wires, which can carry more than 65,000 times more data than copper wires.

1970s-80s: Many telephone companies have started using fiber optic cables to build their strong networks.

1986: Sprint was the first US telecommunications company to implement a nationwide fiber optic digital cable network.

1988: The transatlantic telephone entered service, linking the United States, France and the United Kingdom and being used as fiber optics.

1991: The all-fiber network was invented to carry more than 100 times more data than cable.

1996: The all-fiber optic system was first laid over the Pacific Ocean.

1997 : The longest cable in the world, called Fiber Optic Link Around the Globe or FLAF, provided the Internet infrastructure.

1990s: About 80% of the world’s traffic information was transmitted via fiber optic cables.

After the Internet boom, the traditional copper cables were replaced by the fiber optic network. Due to the increased need for a faster and more reliable network, fiber has become very cost effective. At present, a vast network of fiber optic cables stretches across the globe, connecting us and the whole world.

Advancement in fiber optic cable

After some time, scientists managed to significantly reduce signal loss in fiber optic cables. This has made fiber optics the best choice for sending electronic information, like Internet data, from one location to another.

In the 1990s, as the World Wide Web became popular with the general public, fiber optic cables were laid around the world, in an effort to provide suitable infrastructure to offset the perceived problems of the year 2000.

Today, fiber optics are present in virtually every region of the Earth, forming the absolute backbone of today’s modern communication systems.

Fiber optic technology is used in many industries today, including medical, telecommunications, broadcasting, networking, aviation and many more.


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