The success story of the optical fibre which started 40 years ago

In Proc IEE 113, July 1966, Charles Kuen Kao and George Hockham published the paper “Dielectric-fibre surface waveguides for optical frequencies”, which is regarded as the starting point of optical fibre communication. The paper dealt with most of the relevant issues of using an optical fibre for the transmission medium of telecommunication, including the fundamental question of the possibility of very low attenuation. The optical fibre was at that time well established as a light guide with application primarily for the transmission of images in fibre bundles over lengths of a meter or less. My talk will first cover this development, starting as long ago as 1842. Thereafter the Kao/Hockham paper will be looked into in some detail. Further the development that was initiated by the Kao/Hockham paper and resulted in the low loss optical fibres of today will be reviewed. Finally a quick view on possible future fibre types will be given.