How the fibre communications revolution began

Charles Kao experimenting with a single-mode optical fibre

Charles Kao experimenting with prototype single-mode optical fibre at STL

Charles Kao experimenting with a prototype single-mode optical fibre made of glass, in the lab at STL. Modulated light is coupled into the fibre and detected at the far end.

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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