back to article Happy 50th birthday, optical fibres for telecoms

One of the seminal developments in modern telecommunications turns 50 years old this month: the paper that bootstrapped the world of optical fibre communications. With this publication in the July 1966 issue of Proceedings of the Institution of Electrical Engineers (now the IET), Charles Kao upended then-current research into …

  1. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    %0 years old

    I did not realize fiber optic cable was that old, happy 50th!

    1. Hollerithevo Silver badge

      Re: %0 years old

      Downvoting for a typo? You folks are harsh.

  2. Clive Harris
    Headmaster

    Institution of Electrical Engineers

    <<Proceedings of the Institution of Electrical Engineers (now the IEEE)>>

    Incorrect. The (UK-based) Institution of Electrical Engineers is not now the IEEE. It is now the IET (Institution of Engineering and Technology).

    The (American) IEEE is an entirely different organisation. (And a lot easier to join, from what I hear)

    Clive (C.Eng MIET)

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: Institution of Electrical Engineers

      (And a lot easier to join, from what I hear)

      Sort-of. The membership grades don't align, IEEE Member grade just needs a cheque and a photocopy of a degree certificate, a bit like IET Associate Member. The IET Member grade is equivalent to IEEE Senior Member, with a requirement for experience and responsibility. MIET shouldn't be considered as equal to MIEEE.

      1. Clive Harris
        Unhappy

        Re: Institution of Electrical Engineers

        A number of years back, my (American) boss decided he wanted to add an "MIEE" (as it was called then) to his collection of memberships, and asked me to fix it for him. I had to explain to him that it wasn't that simple, and the size of your chequebook wasn't the deciding factor. Fortunately, it turned out that he did have the required qualifications so, after a lengthy process involving me finding three more members to sponsor him, and a lot of paperwork, we eventually got him in.

        Now it looks like I'm likely to lose my membership soon because of this confounded CPD (Continuing Professional Development) requirement they've just introduced. When I'm living in rural Australia, how am I supposed to satisfy a London-based organisation that I'm doing at least 30 hours of approved training every year.? Of course I'm continually educating myself to keep up to date with the latest technology, but proving it to their satisfaction is another matter. I'm seriously wondering if it's worth the effort, just to get a few letters after my name (which I never use), an a magazine every couple of months. Anyone else in my situation facing the same problem?

        1. Code For Broke

          Re: Institution of Electrical Engineers

          Clive: it must have been so exciting to put your training and expertise to work for such an important project as playing secretary for your boss.

          I'm not sure if I feel more sorrow or disappointment for you.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Institution of Electrical Engineers

          "Now it looks like I'm likely to lose my membership soon because of this confounded CPD (Continuing Professional Development) requirement"

          ...

          "Anyone else in my situation facing the same problem?"

          My father had the same problem as an architect, and on top of that, extra bits of insurance became mandatory. He was past retirement age anyway so reluctantly cancelled his membership.

          1. Puuru

            Re: Institution of Electrical Engineers

            Quite possibly here, despite being within cooee of Wellington (NZ). Well, I'm semi-retired now and not relying on being C.Eng for continuing work, so if it happens it happens. It would be a pity though.

  3. Oengus

    For the centenary...

    For the centenary the Government might finally let the NBN install Fibre to the home (FTTP) for Internet connections in Oz.

  4. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

    I've had lots of brilliant ideas* looking into glasses in the past, and I'm also 50 this year...

    But seriously, what Kao and his colleagues came up with is absolutely top notch engineering / boffinry, and it's nice to see that this is appreciated, awarded and put to good use.

    *Well, they seemed brilliant at the time.

  5. Code For Broke

    Corning

    Once, while driving through Corning, New York, I was very excited to take break and visit the museum there. Of particular interest to me at the time was seeing some fiber optic history in the flesh.

    Sadly, 2/3 of the museum is dedicated to glass baubles and objet d'art. The science room (kinda a big open room mind you) had a pretty excellent example a mirror from a telescope, and a lot of examples of automotive safety glass. I recall few or no examples of any of the fiber optic or tablet glass products that have kept Corning relevant that past 15 years.

    1. cray74

      Re: Corning

      I recall few or no examples of any of the fiber optic or tablet glass products that have kept Corning relevant that past 15 years.

      Schedule your viewing of the Corning Glass Museum's fiber optics demo today. ;)

      As for the baubles and object d'art, as a materials engineer I found them fascinating exercises in ceramics design and construction. The techniques and skill involved in making, say, a 30-centimeter glass globe of Earth (7 different layers of etched and carved cameo glass) are relevant for laminated, custom-shaped glass structures.

  6. b0llchit
    Facepalm

    Infinite scientific paywall

    50 years... and the article is still behind a paywall. That is what we all need, sigh.

  7. SiliconEnterprise

    Article brought back nice memories - I chose optical fibre telecoms as my university Physics dissertation in 1980 and remember referencing Charles Kao

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