The History and Evolution of Fiber Optic Cables

The phenomenon of transferring data up to long distances is not new to us. Thanks to satellite communications, data networks, broadcasters and cable operators, we can exchange the information we want whenever we want. This transmission of data is possible due to Fiber optic cables. Also, with the enhancement of technology, and inclination towards better performances, the utility of fiber optics is increasing with each passing day.

Today, we will know more about Fiber Optic Cables, how they evolved and a little bit about their working. First, let’s start with the introduction of Fiber Optic Cables.

So, what Are Fiber Optics?

Fiber Optic cables, also known as optical fibers are tiny strands (same size as human hair) of glass arranged in optical cable bundles. They’re an ultimate choice when one wants to transmit light signals to long distances. Every bundle of these cables comes with a jacket or an outer covering. Now look at a single optic fiber and you will observe that it has a core with a thin glass which helps the light to travel through it. Its outer optical layer surrounds the core and reflects light back to the cladding. It also has a coating which protects the fiber from damage and moisture.

There are two major types of fibers. One, single mode, and two, multimode. When it comes to transmitting data up to long distances, the electricians usually make use of single mode fibers. And for shorter distances, they make use of multi-mode fibers.

Now, let’s get into the history of Fiber Optic Cables.

History of Fiber Optics

You would be surprised to know that Fiber Optic Cables go back to the Roman era! Optical Telegraph is the first equipment that made use of these cables and enabled the operators to transmit the message from one tower to another through an array of lights on towers. The French Chappe brothers invented them in the year 1790.

1800s: The Phenomenon of Light Travel

In the year 1840, physicists Jacques Babinet and Daniel Collodon reported that they can direct light through the jets of water fountain. Thereafter, in the year 1854, John Tyndall, a British physicist proved that light signals can bend as they can travel through water jets.

Now, let’s talk about the Alexander Graham Bell era in the year 1880. He created a patent for an optical telephone which helped to enhance the optical technology further. In the same year, William Wheeler created a system of light pipes which produced light for the houses through an electric lamp in the basement.

Dr. Roth and Professor Reuss of Vienna made bent glass rods to illuminate body cavities in the year 1888. On the other hand, in the year 1895, Henry Saint Rene crafted bent glass rods that enabled the transmission of light images through TV. And last but not the least, in the year 1898, David Smith, an American scientist applied a patent for a dental illuminator.

1900s: The Further Progress of Fiber Optics

In the year 1930, Heinrich Lamm transmitted the image of a light bulb filament through a bundle of Optical Fibers. He was the first person to do so. Thereafter, Holger Moller Hansen applied for a patent in which he proposed plastic and cladding glass fibers having a low index material.

Holger Moller Hansen applied for a Danish patent in 1951 on fiber-optic imaging in which he proposed cladding glass or plastic fibers with a transparent low-index material, but as it was quite similar to Baird and Hansell patent given in 1926, the authorities didn’t accept it.

And now to the 70s. The year 1973 witnessed a chemical vapor deposition process which heated chemical oxygen to create an ultra-transparent glass which one can mass produce into a low loss optical fiber. Bell Laboratories was the body that introduced this phenomenon. In 1975, the Dorset police installed the non-experimental fiber optic link with the first live telephone traffic. During the mid-1980s, Sprint came into existence – which was a 100% fiber optic network.

In the year 1996, they laid the first optic fiber cable across the Pacific Ocean known as TP-5. It was made out of optical amplifiers. Fiber Optic Link Around the Globe – abbreviated as Flag was the longest single cable network and it laid the groundwork for the upcoming and advanced internet applications.

Several industries including data storage, telecommunication, industrial, networking and broadcast industries make use of fiber optic patch cables to the fullest. We hope you enjoyed reading about the history and evolution of the most significant type of cables. Watch out this space for more!


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