History of Fiber Optics


Anyone who is interested or has paid close attention to communications and networking technologies knows exactly how meteoric the fiber optic cables rise was. They are adopted widely as the most durable, efficient, and cost-efficient alternative to traditional copper cables. Besides, these cables are used for various applications that include networking, audio and visual setups, and more.

It is quite clear that most industries and people rely on fiber optic cables for daily use, however, what is not very clear is how far back its history stretches and how we got it.

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

History of Fiber Optics

Early Origin of Fiber Optics

The fiber optic history goes back to the 18th Century. Fiber optic cables like we know today did not exist yet, but it is when pioneers of science William Wheeler and Alexander Graham Bell started thinking of using light speed that can be used for transmitting information.

In the next century, many researchers came ahead and push forward this idea until, in the 20th century, many scientists were looking for patents for fiber optic technologies. During the 70s & 80s, non-experimental fiber cables got developed and started to be used by many telephone companies to redesign their communications infrastructures efficiently.

What is Fiber Optic?

Fiber optic communication is a process that transmits huge amounts of information from pulses of infrared light with the help of optical fibers—they are tiny fibers bundled to form cables (the size of a human hair stand).

History of Fiber Optics

Though the use of fiber optic cables started in the 1970s, and the main technology behind this goes back much further. Let us check out the quick synopsis:

1880: Graham Bell made the optical phone system, which he named the photophone.

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

1970s-80s: Many telephone companies started using fiber cables for building their strong networks.

1986: Sprint was the first US telecom company to set up a nationwide digital fiber-optic cable network.

1988: Transatlantic telephone went into operation, which connected the US, France, and the UK and was used as the optical fiber.

1991: All-optic fiber network was invented to carry over 100 times more data than cable.

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

1997: The longest cable in the world named Fiber Optic Link Around the Globe or FLAF provided the internet infrastructure.

1990s: Around 80% of the worldwide traffic information was transmitted through fiber optic cables. 

After the boom of the internet, the traditional copper cables got replaced by the fiber optic network because of the higher need for a faster and more reliable network, fiber became very cost-effective. At present, a vast fiber-optic cable network extends across the world, connecting us—and the whole world.

Advancement in the Fiber Optic Cable

After a while, scientists were able to make the signal loss in fiber optic cables very low. This made fiber optics the best choice for sending electronic information, like internet data, from one place to another.

By the 1990s as the World Wide Web was getting popularized among the people, fiber optics cables were laid over the world with the major push to provide proper infrastructure to offset the perceived issues of the Y2K.

At present, fiber is in virtually every area of the Earth, hence forming an absolute backbone of today’s modern communications setup.

Fiber optic technology today is used in many industries, which include the medical field, telecommunication, broadcasting, networking, aviation, and many more.


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