The first attempts at guiding light on the basis of total internal reflection in a medium dates to 1841 by Daniel Colladon.

Light Fountain










In 1880, Alexander Graham Bell demonstrated how light could be used to transfer sounds from one area to another. Though it did not work on cloudy days, his discovery did set the stage for fibre optics.

Alexander Graham Bell’s Plaque












Alexander Graham Bell’s box telephone











In 1930, a German student named Heinrich Lamm demonstrated an image transmission through a bundle of optical fibers.

Heinrich Lamm Experiment

In 1956, the term “Fibre Optics” was born when Narinder Kapany coined the term after bundling a few glass rods. He then demonstrated that these rods could project light without leaking at any point, as long as they were wrapped or coated in a dark material.

The man who bent the light

By 1960s, Dr. Charles Kao realized the potential of fibre optics. Dr. Kao suggested fibre optics could be used for fast and clear communications.

Charles Kuen Kao doing an early experiment on optical fiber

In the 1970’s, a company called Corning Glass created the first optical fibre made entirely of thin strands of glass.

Dr. Robert Maurer, Dr. Peter Schultz, and Dr. Donald Keck. Sullivan Park Archive, Corning, N.Y

In April 1977, General Telephone and Electronics tested and deployed the world’s first live telephone traffic through a fibre-optic system in Long Beach, California.

General Telephone and Electronics

They were soon followed by Bell in May 1977, with an optical telephone communication system installed in the downtown Chicago area, covering a distance of 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometers).

Today more than 80 percent of the world’s long-distance voice and data traffic is carried over optical-fibre cables.

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