Short History of Fiber Optics
Fiber optic cables are among the most important technologies that use light. They transmit data at very high speeds and are often used by internet providers. Compared to other wired cables, fiber optics are flexible, lightweight, and easily moved. While most people think fiber optics is a new development, the technology has evolved over years. Here is everything you need to know about the history of fiber optics.
What Is Fiber Optics?
Fiber optics is a technology utilized to send data as light pulses through cables of fibers made of plastic or glass. This technology can be used to send information over long distances. Fiber optic cables are often comprised of bundled optical fibers. Optical fibers are slim and can send data further when bundled together. Countless companies utilize fiber optics to provide internet, phone, and television services.
History of Fiber Optics
People have attempted to use light to communicate for thousands of years. Early methods utilized light sources such as fire to create smoke signals to send messages to those far away. These methods were used by many early people in Asia and North America to communicate during times of conflict. The smoke signals can be considered an early form of optical communication.
While the early optical telegraph was developed in France in the late 18th century, fiber optic communication on a large scale was not possible until the invention of total internal reflection. In 1880, Alexander Graham Bell created the optical phone, an early version of the optic technology used today. A few years later, a French engineer developed a system for guiding light images.
By the 1920s, the first tools capable of transmitting images for modern-day television were developed. However, it was not until the 1930s that Heinrich Lamm sent an image using a bundle of optical fibers. In the 1950s, a Dutch engineer applied for a patent to protect fiber optic imaging technology, but his request was refused. In 1961, Elias Snitzer published a single-mode fiber theory, a concept used to develop many of the technologies used in current communication applications.
Modern Use of Fiber Optics
In the mid-1960s, a communications laboratory based in England was the first company to prove that light loss of existing glass fiber could be reduced by eliminating impurities. This discovery assisted in developing fiber optic technology that is still used today. In 1973, Bell Laboratories created an adapted vapor deposition methodology capable of producing low-loss optical fibers on a mass scale. This process is still used today to make fiber optic cables.
The first telephone call using fiber optic technology occurred in the late 1970s in California. By the 1980s, telephone companies were using fiber optics on a large scale. By the late 1980s, the first transatlantic telephone cable using this technology was deployed. Then, in the early 1990s, the modern-day fiber optic cable was developed using amplifiers. This type of cable is still used in many telecommunications applications.
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