Who Invented High-Speed Optical Cable?

Who Invented High-Speed Optical Cable?

High-speed optical cable is the basis of the National Broadband Network and is a marvel of modern technology. A fibre optical cable is a group of bound fibre optic hair thin filaments, wound around a steel core. The fibre optic filaments are the means for transmitting data, converted into light, at very high speeds across the world.

The high-speed cable is very hard to attribute to the work of one person, and is a result rather of a series of incremental gains in technology and knowledge. The origins of the high speed optical cable date all the way back to Alexander Graham Bell, who first attempted to communicate using light way back around 1880; however, the material and technology to support such a concept simply did not exist at that time.

Light wave communication did not become possible until the mid-twentieth century, when a light transmission source – the laser – came into existence. Charles Townes is widely given credit for inventing the laser, although Albert Einstein introduced the concept of simulated emission way back in 1917. Without the laser, the fibre optic cable would serve no purpose.

In the nineteen sixties, researchers in England discovered that Silica glass fibres could carry light waves without significant loss of signal. Charles How and George Hockham first proposed optical fibres at STC Laboratories in London, and by 1970, Corning Glass Works had developed optical fibre that was suitable for communication purposes. At about the same time, semiconductor lasers were developed that were suitable for transmitting light through fibre optic cable over long distances.

Research and development of these new technologies began in earnest, and in 1977, General Telephone and electronics sent the first live telephone traffic through fibre optics at 6 M/bits per second in Long Beach California. However, the first wide area fibre optic system is attributed to Redifussion in Hasting, England. The system was placed in ducting throughout the town and gave over 1000 subscribers access to television transmissions that they would not otherwise have received.

Second, third, fourth and fifth generation fibre optic communication systems have been developed over the past thirty years , as the demand for rapid transmission and receipt of communications developed has grown at an ever increasing rate.

While attributing the development of the high speed cable to one person is just about impossible, Einstein and Bell provided the seeds of the concept long before the technologies or materials existed to make fibre optic communications a reality.

The high-speed optical cable is a culmination of much research and many different applications of technologies. The result is that we get to enjoy high-speed broadband internet communications – something that Alexander Graham Bell may have only imagined in his wildest dreams.

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