How the fibre communications revolution began

Famous paper: "Dielectric-fibre surface waveguides for optical frequencies" by Charles Kao & George Hockham“Dielectric-fibre surface waveguides for optical frequencies”, K.C.Kao & G.A.Hockham,
Published in the Proceedings of the IEE, Vol. 113, No.7, July 1966.

Paper 5033 E, first received 24th November 1965 and in revised form 15th February 1966.)

Link to the complete historic paper

Kindly provided by the IET. It remains Copyright of the Institution of Engineering & Technology.

This was preceded by an earlier press release from the parent company STC:

From the January 1966 Press Release

…a glass core about three or four microns in diameter, clad with a coaxial layer of another glass having a refractive index smaller than that of the core by about one per cent…

It should be noted that when these methods are perfected, it will be possible to transmit very large quantities of information (telephone, television, data, etc.) between say, the Americas and Europe, along a single undersea cable.

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2016: Half a Century of Optical Fibre Communications

2016 was the 50th anniversary of the publication that started it all.

Optical Fibre has transformed our world yet is now almost completely ignored.

The reasons?:

  • It is largely hidden (beneath our streets and oceans).
  • No surviving commercial organisation has an interest in promoting the STL history.
  • Few remember just how poor global communications used to be.

Useful Links

For anyone who enjoyed STL

STL Quarter Century Club

For the full story of optical communication see

"City of Light - The Story of Fiber Optics" by Jeff Hecht

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