Without fiber optic technology, the world we know today would not exist. Fiber optic cables made e-commerce and modern telecommunications possible, connecting the world through a massive web of tiny cables.
Consider this: More than 80 percent of all the voice and data traffic in the world is carried via fiber optic cables. Whether it’s a phone call to your local pizza delivery business, your favorite cable television channel, or your latest online purchase, chances are it was made possible by network cable using fiber optic technology.
History of Fiber Optic Cables
Fiber optic communications has its roots in the late 18th century, with work done by French scientist Claude Chappe on an optical telegraph system. Nearly a century later, Alexander Graham Bell patented an optical telephone system, but this system proved impractical at the time and the standard telephone system was developed instead. Research by Dutch scientist Abraham Van Heel and British scientist Harold H. Hopkins in the 1950s and 60s moved fiber optic communication closer to a reality, and their work examined the feasibility of transmitting information using light funneled down tiny fibers. More groundbreaking research occurred at Bell Labs in the 1970s and by 1977, the first optical telephone communication systems were being developed in Chicago.
How Fiber Optic Cables Work
Fiber optic cables are thin, transparent, flexible glass, silica, or plastic tubes that transmit light from one point to another. The tubes are sheathed in plastic covering to protect them.
Here’s a simple explanation of how fiber optic cables work:
Consider a long plastic tube with insides that have been coated with a highly reflective surface. Imagine that you’re looking into the tube while someone else shines a light into the tube. Because of the reflective surface of the tube, the light being shined at the other end of the tube can be seen on your end. Now imagine that the person at the end of the tube decided to communicate with you in Morse code, turning the flash light on and off to produce pulses of light you could translate into words or other information.
In essence, this is how fiber optic cables work. Information is translated into pulses of light that are transmitted via fiber optic cables and are translated back into information at the other end. These pulses are very fast, allowing for the quick dissemination of large amounts of information.
Millions of millions of miles of network cable stretch around the world, bringing people closer together by providing opportunities to communicate and share information.
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