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Fiber Optic Timeline

Created by the Fiber Optic Association as an educational project to help document

 the history of the development of fiber optics for communications.

Dates, of course, are often approximate, as putting a firm date on the introduction of a new technology is often impossible!

If you have additions (especially images), corrections or comments, please send them to FOA.


Year

Event

Description

1954

Transmit images by fiber optics

Narinder Kapany from NY Times
NY Times

Narinder Kapany and Harold Hopkins (separately) make bundles of fibers to transmit images.

Abraham Van Heel suggested cladding the fibers to reduce attenuation.

  1961
Laser transmission through fiber optics  
Elias Snitzer and Will Hicks  of American Optical demonstrate a laser beam directed through a thin glass fiber.

1966

Using fiber for data

Charles Kao from NY Times
NY Times

Charles Kao reveals on how to make low loss fiber suitable for communications using an optical cladding over a pure glass core and removing impurities, plus ideally singlemode operation. (Awarded Nobel Prize in 2009)

1970

Semiconductor lasers

Semiconductor lasers demonstrated by both Ioffe Physical Institute in Leningrad and Bell Labs (Alferov and Kroemer share Nobel Prize for their discovery in 2000)

1972


Low loss fiber Manufacturing Method Developed at Corning
Corning development of optical fiber
Corning

Donald Keck, Peter Schultz and  Robert Maurer at Corning develop vapor deposition method to make high purity low loss fibers

1973

Ethernet

Ethernet was invented at Xerox Palo Alto Research Labs using coax cable. Digital Equipment joined Xerox to standardize Ethernet under IEEE as 803.3 in 1983.

1975

Semiconductor lasers

Connecting computers

Laser Diode Labs offers first commercial semiconductor lasers

NORAD uses fiber to connect computers at Cheyenne Mountain.

  1976
  CATV fiber link trials
  Teleprompter tests fiber optic CATV
   link in Manahattan

1977

Fiber optic field trials begin

April: AT&T installs first telecom link in coal tunnels under Chicago, Illinois

3 weeks later, GTE sends live telephone calls through fiber in Long Beach, CA

July: British Post Office tests link at Martlesham Heath, UK

1978

Fiber to the home

Fiber to the home trials begun Japan and France, costs were very high

1979

Integrated Circuits for Digital Phone Systems

Integrated circuit (IC) PCM codecs and SLICs introduced that allow inexpensive conversion of telephone lines to digital, paving way for fiber optics.

1980

First Ethernet “standard”

Xerox, the inventor, joined Intel and computer manufacturer Digital Equipment Corp. to publish first standard for Ethernet. IEEE would take over standardization for Ethernet and publish the first standard in 1983.

1980

First TV coverage of event using fiber optics

Fiber transmits TV for Winter Olympics at Lake Placid

1980-1984

First large backbones in US

AT&T starts East and West coast backbones in US – 45Mb/s with 850nm lasers in multimode fiber.

Fiber begins replacing communications satellites.

1980s

EIA standards for fiber optics

The Electronics Industry Association (EIA)takes on task of developing standards for fiber optics, merges with US Telecom Suppliers Association (USTSA) to create the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) to write standards.

1982

Long haul telecom converts to singlemode fiber

Fiber optic product for CATV networks

British Telecom in UK and MCI in US commit to nationwide networks on singlemode fiber

Times Fiber introduces MiniHub for CATV networks

1983

IEEE published Ethernet Standard

AT&T Tests Undersea Cable


IEEE published Ethernet Standard under committee 802.3 after taking over from Xerox, Intel and DEC. Ethernet became the dominant LAN and Internet standard.

In 1983, AT&T Bell Labs tested the first undersea fiber optic cable in ~5km deep water in the Atlantic. (Video)

1984

Ceramic ferrules for connectors

D4 connector

BT Installs First Submarine Cable

Kyocera introduces ceramic ferrules for connectors that are precise enough for singlemode fiber. The NEC D4 connector was probably the first connector to use the ceramic ferrule. ST and SC follow.

BT lays first submarine cable to carry commercial traffic to the Isle of Wight

1984

IBM introduces Token Ring

IBM introduces Token Ring network for LANs at 4Mb/s with ring architecture and a 3-byte “token” to allow access. Standardized by IEEE as 802.5 in 1989.

1984

DEC VAXstation Graphic Terminal

DEC VAXstation Graphic Terminal introduced with fiber optic link to VAX computer for bandwidth/length requirements

1984

FOGM Fiber Optic Guided Missile

Raytheon develops the fiber optic guided missile (FOG-M) controlled by a two-way fiber optic data link. The fiber is payed out from a bobbin in the back of the missile.

1986

Undersea cables

BT installs cable from England to Belgium

1987

Fiber Optic LANs

FOIRL (Fiber Optic Inter-Repeater Link) becomes first standard fiber optic LAN (!EEE 802.3d) It is followed by 10baseFL/FB/FP in 1993.

1988

Undersea cables


Test
EvolutionNext

AM fiber optic CATV system

DFB Laser

AT&T lays TAT-8, first transatlantic fiber optic cable. It lasts for 13 years.

General Optronics introduces AM CATV fiber optic system, first affordable CATV fiber system, leads to hybrid fiber-coax (HFC) CATV networks.

Distributed feedback (DFB) laser invented by Herwig Kogelnik of Bell Labs years earlier finally becomes commercially available - it's narrow linewidth and stable wavelength makes longer distance and WDM possible.

1990

Ethernet over Twisted Pair

World Wide Web


IEEE standardizes Ethernet over twisted pair cabling as 10Base-T.

Tim Berners-Lee at CERN develops basis for WWW: Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), Hyptertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), and Uniform Resource Locator, URL. That same year, Berners-Lee posted the first web page on what he called the World Wide Web.

1991

Structured Cabling Standards

What we now call structured cabling developed using balanced transmission over twisted pair phone wires and modular phone connectors for 10Mb/s Ethernet with a fiber optic option. Standardized by TIA 568 in 1991. Adopted internationally as ISO/IEC 11801 in 1995.

1993

WWW Browser

Passive Optical Network (PON)

Fiber Optic LAN -FDDI

FDDI Connector

Marc Andreessen, at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, developed the first web browser, Mosaic. The Internet is ready for take-off!

10base-FP (Fiber Passive) Ethernet LAN based on a passive splitter approved as IEEE 802.3J – first standard passive optical network using passive star coupler

FDDI (Fiber Distributed Data Interface) becomes first commercial 100Mb/s LAN using dual ring architecture. Part of standard is a unique FDDI duplex connector.

1994

Internet goes public

The Internet becomes mainstream, starting a new generation of communications and commerce.

1995

Fiber Optic Association (FOA) founded

FOA logo

Hybrid Fiber-Coax Fiber Networks for CATV/Broadband

Fiber LAN – Fast Ethernet

Fiber amplifiers extend long haul networks, allow WDM

FOA started by a dozen instructors at Fiber U conference as professional association for fiber optics

The inventions of DFB lasers and cable modems allows CATV companies to build hybrid fiber-coax networks capable of broadband service to subscribers.

IEEE 802.3 standardizes several versions of 100Mb/s Ethernet using twisted pair and fiber optics.

Fiber amplifiers allowed regeneration of fiber optic signals without converting back to electrical signals, greatly extending fiber’s distance capacity and facilitating wavelength division multiplexing.

1997

DOCSIS standard for CATV Broadband Networks

Using cable modems and hybrid fiber coax networks, CATV systems begin offering fast, always-on Internet service, dominating the market for broadband.

1995-2001

Dot Com “Bubble”

The advent of the Internet and deregulation of the US telecom market led to an overgrown market – a bubble – that burst in 2001.

1996

WDM

Hollow Core fibers

First Submarine Cables To Use Fiber Amplifiers

Wavelength division multiplexing systems introduced

University of Bath demonstrates hollow core fibers where light is guided by the structure of the fiber not the refractive index of the core and cladding.

TAT-12 installed using fiber amplifiers

1997

Data Centers

The growth of the Internet and the need to store and distribute vast amounts of data leads to the design of giant data centers around the world.

1998

Gigabit Ethernet Fiber LAN

Submarine Cables Use WDM

Gigabit Ethernet using short wavelength VCSEL sources introduced. Twisted pair versions follow.

First submaring cables use wavelength-division multiplexing (WDM)

1999

“Internet of Things” term coined

Kevin Ashton of P&G and later MIT coined the term Internet of Things to describe the concept of connected devices

1999

MPO array connector standardized

TIA releases 12/24 fiber array connector standard, theoretically covers up to 72 fibers.

2000

OS2 low water peak singlemode fiber standardized

OS2 low water peak singlemode fiber allowed coarse wavelength division multiplexing (CWDM) over a broad wavelength range.

2000

3G Cellular

3G cellular standards were a big jump up in bandwidth to >1Mb/s, making the smartphone feasible.

2001

“DotCom/fiber optic bubble bursts

The dotcom/fiber optic bubble of the late 1990s burst in 2001 causing a 70% decline in the fiber optic industry that took nearly a decade to recover. The bust also left much dark fiber, as much as 90% of that installed in the prior 5 years.

2002

OM3 multimode fiber

TIA standardizes OM3 multimode fiber with higher bandwidth than regular 50/125 fibers for faster networks.

2002

10 Gigabit Ethernet Fiber LAN

And Pluggable Modules For Transceivers

It took only another 4 years to increase fiber optic Ethernet speeds 10 times to 10G – and introduce pluggable modules for transceivers

2004

EPON standard LAN used for FTTH

PON version of Ethernet published by IEEE 802.3 commiittee

2005

BPON standard for FTTH

First FiOS FTTH installation


ITU-T G.983 BPON (Broadband Passive Optical Network) standardized

 Verizon begins first FiOS FTTH network in Keller TX

2008

GPON standard for FTTH

ITU-T G.984 BPON (Gigabit Passive Optical Network) standardized. Since introduction it has been updated several times to include 10G PONs.

2006

Fiber To The Home (FTTH)

Fiber To The Home (FTTH) networks, mostly based on passive optical networks (PONs) using optical splitters to connect multiple subscribers on one fiber, begin deployment worldwide.

2007

Bend insensitive singlemode fiber

Bend insensitive singlemode fiber was introduced to reduce losses caused by stress on the fibers. It would lead to the development of microcables and high fiber count cables.

2007

QPSK encoding extends fiber to 500km at 100Gb/s

Quadrature phase-shift keying moves from amplitude to phase modulation to allow longer fiber lengths.

2007

Smartphones

Apple introduces iPhone, starts boom in cellular use of smart devices.

2008

Coherent fiber optic communications

Ciena introduces a coherent fiber optic system for long haul fiber at 100Gb/s and higher.

2009

Bend insensitive multimode fiber

Bend insensitive multimode fiber was introduced to reduce losses caused by stress on the fibers. It became the de factor standard for multimode fiber.

2010

100 Gigabit Ethernet Fiber LAN

 

Ethernet speeds were upped another 10 times – 100G using multi-lane parallel optics for MM fiber and WDM for SM fiber. 40G options were also developed, including an option for short links on Cat 8 UTP copper cables.

2010

Google Fiber

Over 1100 communities responded to Google’s invitation to become the first Google Fiber city with gigabit Internet FTTH service. Kansas City won the initial competition and construction began in 2011.

2010

4G and LTE cellular systems

4G and LTE cellular systems provided a big jump in bandwidth over 3G at a good time as smartphone usage grows exponentially

2010

10GPON standard for FTTH

ITU G.987/8 standard for 10G passive optical network, can work as overlay for GPON using WDM

2011

Wireless small cells

Using low power small cells to add capacity to urban wireless networks

2013

Austin, TX becomes second Google Fiber City

Over the next few years, Google fiber also added Provo, and Salt Lake City, UT, Charlotte, NC, Atlanta, Nashville, Raleigh-Durham, NC, San Antonio and Huntsville.

2011

Open Compute Project (OCP) group started

OCP was started by Facebook in 2009 to standardize data center product design and make designs open source. Designs are popular especially in hyperscale data centers.

2011

OM4 multimode fiber

TIA standardizes OM4 multimode fiber with higher bandwidth for faster networks.

2016

Google Fiber stops expansion

OM5 multimode fiber for short waqvelength WDM

Bell Labs demos 1Tb/s over singlemode fiber

Google fiber announced it would stop expansion but continue offering service to cities where it was operating.

OM5 fiber was specified for bandwidth in the range of 850-950nm to allow wavelength division multiplexing with VCSELs.

Nokia Bell Labs and Tech Univ Munich demonstrates transmission of 1 terabits/sec over singlemode fiber, approaching the Shannon limit.

2017

Fiber optic microcables reduce size

Corning Microcable

Microcables use bend-insensitive fibers to pack more fibers into smaller cables, easing installation

2018

High count fiber optic cables

high fiber count cable


Fiber optic cables with very high fiber counts introduced, 1728/3456 and 6912 fibers introduced for use in data centers and dense metropolitan areas.

2019

5G cellular wireless networks


Carriers begin installing 5G wireless cellular networks requiring installation of large fiber optic backbones for connections.

2020

Fiber networks prove resilient

Working from home using videoconferencing adds enormous traffic to the Internet, but fiber optic communications systems continue to work without glitches.

2020

400 Gigabit Ethernet

400G also offers option to multiplex multiple channels of 25/50/100G data

2021

Hollow core fiber offers “faster” transmission

Hollow core fiber becomes commercially available, promoted because light travels almost 50% faster in the hollow core than in glass core fiber.

 Future

 Who knows!

 


Links:

Corning: 50 Years of Fiber  

Fiber Optic Chronology, Jeff Hecht  

CATV Timeline  


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