WWW.OpticalFibreHistory.co.uk website’s focus:
The site is devoted entirely to the early STL part of the history of optical fibre communications (for that is where the story began). However, the contributions of many other organisations and individuals were an absolutely essential part of the story, especially in the development of low loss glass fibres. I cannot possibly do justice to these other stories, but I can recommend the excellent book “City of Light – The Story of Fiber Optics” by Jeff Hecht, which tells the whole story in a very readable and entertaining way, describing the battles and personalities and the much broader picture. In contrast, this website is simply a place for a few memorabilia for those that have an interest in the STL part of the story. I would encourage those who know the other histories, to ensure it is recorded in some way before it is forgotten.
I joined STL in 1966, and one of my firsts tasks was to modify an existing Free-space optical link (using a Pulse Width Modulated GaAs LED) to use optical fibre. We procured some bare fibre from Schott Glass, which had a loss of 1.2 dB per metre. Using compressed air I blew more than 80 strands into a plastic tube, creating a fibre bundle 20 metres long. This was the maximum distance achievable with the loss of 24 dB. It was not my first experience of optical communications as my final year project (together with my lab partner Paul Sinclair), was a 1 Mbit/sec free-space optical link. having arrived at STL, I used my experience with high-speed electronics to provide Charles Kao with dispersion measuring equipment.
I did not become 100% involved in optical communications until 7 years later, but devoted almost all the rest of my career to developing ever higher data rate fibre systems. Over the next 3 decades I enjoyed my involvement in almost all aspects of fibre systems.