The optical communication team at STL
(Standard Telecommunication Laboratories)
Alec Reeves – 1902-1971
Famous for inventing the whole idea of a digitising analogue signals to ensure error free communication (1937).
Famous for inventing OBOE, a highly accurate bomber navigation system used during WWII.
Alec was the initial leader of the optical communications research team at STL in Harlow.
Charles Kao pioneered the use of a single mode dielectric (glass) optical fibre waveguide for long distance communications, at a time when the losses of the best available glasses made the idea seem impossible. It was in competition with the technology of Long-haul Microwave Waveguide, which was being developed as several laboratories around the world.
Awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physics for pioneering optical fibre communication.
George Hockham used microwaves to model optic fibre performance at a time when experiments were impossible with fibre. He calculated the level of signal loss that might be caused by geometric imperfections in a future fibre. He helped to establish the viability of using optical fibres for communications.
Other early team members
When Charles Kao transferred from working on Long-Haul Microwave Waveguides, to the Optical Communication group, he made some notes which are a clear record of the members at the time (1963) as follows:.
R 10: Murray Ramsay, John Lytolis, Ian Turner, Bernard Fairchild, Ron Lomax, Simon Laurence,
R 40: Tony Horsley (KDP Cavity), Albert Kaiser, Chris Dobson – Laser Production
R 10: Kit Ballantyne, Bill Taylor – Laser Theory
R 10: Brian Prosser – Pulse generator
R 70: Reg Teesdale – Pulse circuit
The team rapidly grew to include: Chris Wright (thin-film waveguide), Mervyn Jones, Trevor Davis, Robin Worthington and many others. When I joined STL in 1966 I provided Charles Kao with high-speed electronics.