How the fibre communications revolution began

Video – The Birth of Optical Fibre Communications

Collection of historic photos

Click the links above or below to see images on each topic

Hover over each image in the following pages to see the caption

Click each image to see the full size image

STL site through the years

Long-Haul Microwave Waveguide

Microwaves

Charles Kao’s Notes from 1963 – A

Charles Kao’s Notes from 1963 – B

Fibre manufacture

Cables – Copper and Optical Fibre

Connecting fibres together

Semiconductor Lasers and packaging

Early Fibre Transmission Systems

The Hitchin-Stevenage 140 Mb/s Field Demonstration system

Undersea Fibre Transmission Systems

Rogues Gallery – The People involved

Do let me have any images you have that might suit these pages

2 comments on “Images

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Bill Taylor on January 12, 2017 12:45 pm

STL Notes

I was at STL from 1962 – 1964 in the optical communication team and can be seen in your publicity photo with Murray Ramsay and Chris Dobson. The occasion was the successful demonstration of a GaAs diode laser fabricated by Dobson et al in January 1963 only weeks after the first reports from the USA. The picture (a staged publicity shot) shows the liquid nitrogen cryostat containing the laser along with the spectrometer and electronics rig that I assembled. I am standing by the chart recorder displaying the near infrared spectrum of the diode output showing how the broad band of spontaneous emission at low current suddenly and dramatically narrows and peaks as the input current is increased marking the transition to coherent laser light.
(Murray and Chris are pretending to twiddle knobs but were not actually involved in conducting the experiments. The success was celebrated with champagne upstairs with management).
I got to know Charlie Kao quite well – although he was not involved in the above experiments – his lab was further down the corridor on the ground floor south side of the building looking out on the ‘drainpipe’ rig. I remember a conversation with him when he asked me what I thought about the possibility of using glass as an optical communication waveguide. I had worked on the near infrared spectra of doped germanium for my PhD and knew that device quality germanium has to be purified to an extremely high level and consequently has very low optical absorption in the near infrared. This led me to suggest by way of analogy that the absorption in glass might be made very low if the impurities could be removed.

Bill Taylor
12/01/17

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admin on January 12, 2017 7:52 pm

Thanks Bill. Great to hear the background to any of these old images. The “‘drainpipe’ rig” you refer to, is of course the support structure for the “Optical Pipe” shown in some of the other photos.
Re Germanium, I guess you already know that it is the dopant used for the core of almost all today’s optical fibres. Thanks again.

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