[Table of Contents]
Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early
mechanics and electronics. See articles from
published continuously since 1902. All copyrights hereby acknowledged.
For the majority of the
last century, Bell Telephone Laboratories (Bell Labs) led the telecommunications
industry, both for wired and microwave links. Whenever you learned of a breakthrough
in telephony, you could assume it was another Bell Labs innovation and probably
be right. Of course there were discoveries in other venues like university research
facilities, but often those were at least partially funded by Bell. The company
grew to be so large and influential that the government decided breaking them into
smaller pieces would reduce their influence over the nature of communications systems.
It is similar to how Google dominates Internet search engines and advertising, and
how Facebook dominates social media, except nowadays those venues are considered
vital to political futures so they are permitted to continue to grow unabated. This
item about how fiber optic communications will provide a vital link to high capacity,
high bandwidth transmission lines appeared in a 1974 issue of Popular Mechanics
magazine. At that time, ubiquitous 100 MBps Internet and VOIP telephone services
via fiber cable were still in the fertile minds of technology futurists.
Light Conversations in the Future
Light waves moving through glass fibers
may be an important method of communication in the future, according to scientists
at the Bell Laboratories, Murray Hill, N.J. Systems using light would have a greater
signal-carrying capacity than existing radio and electrical transmission systems,
and would be potentially cheaper.
Bell Labs scientists are working with what
they claim to be the "most transparent glass fibers ever made." In one demonstration
(photo to left), light from a laser enters a hair-thin glass fiber in center of
photo, travels half a mile on drum above, then illuminates card in front of researcher.
Second photo shows how light, like water from a hose, spews from the end of the
half-mile-long thread of fiber. Light waves have the capability of transmitting
voice, data and video signals.
Posted December 2, 2019