Optics is the physical science that studies the origin and propagation of light, how it changes, what effects it produces, and other phenomena associated with it. This "Optics Timeline" highlights important events and developments in the science of optics from prehistory to the beginning of the 21st century. It also includes related developments in other fields and related milestones in the human worldview.
Optical Reading Machine patented
Dick Dyott at Post Office and Felix Kapron of Corning
Separately find pulse spreading of a pulse traveling in an optical fiber is lowest at 1.2 to 1.3 micrometers.
Robert Mauer, Donald Keck, Peter Schultz at Corning
Designed and produced the first optical fiber with optical losses low enough for wide use in telecommunications.
World's first laser-driven lighthouse opens in Australia (Point Danger)
early May by Zhores Alferov's group at the Ioffe Physical Institute and on June 1 by Mort Panish and Izuo Hayashi at Bell Labs.
First continuous-wave room-temperature semiconductor lasers made, paving the way toward commercialization of fiber optics.
Corning Glass Work scientists
Prepared the first batch of optical fiber hundreds of yards long and were able to communicate over it with crystal clear clarity. Simultaneously a group at Bell Labs developed a semiconductor laser that could operate at room temp.
CV Shank & H. Kogelnik
Pioneered the Distributed-feedback (DFB) laser, a laser that allows some of the output to be put back into the laser system.
Murray Ramsay of Standard Telecommunication Labs
Demonstrates digital video over fiber to Queen Elizabeth at the Centenary of the Institution of Electrical Engineers
Awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics "for his invention and development of the holographic method."
ARPAnet, the precursor to the Internet, links 23 central computer hosts.
Invented optical tweezers, which use a highly focused laser beam to hold onto and move microscopic particles with certain properties.
John M J Madey
In a paper entitled "Stimulated emission of bremsstrahlung in a periodic magnetic field", Madey outlined the principles of the free electron laser. Free electron lasers do not use transitions of electrons bound to atoms from higher energy levels to lower ones, they use electrons moving near the speed of light.
Proposes a fiber-optic communication network to carry video & other signals to homes at International Wire and Cable Symposium
Modulates diode laser at 1 Bbit/s
Launches the instant color camera.
Robert Maurer, Donald Keck, and Peter Schulz
Make multimode germania-doped fiber with 4 decibel per kilometer loss and much greater strength than titania-doped fiber. This breakthrough resulted in fibers that would allow the input signal to be transmitted over long distances with little loss.
Tappert and Hasegawa
Propose the use of optical fibers to transmit information via single waves.
John B. MacChesney and Paul B. O'Connor
Develops a new technique for making high-quality glass fiber for lightwave transmission..
Awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics "for the discovery of the connection between collective motion and particle motion in atomic nuclei and the development of the theory of the structure of the atomic nucleus based on this connection."
Engineers at Laser Diode Labs
First commercial continuous-wave semiconductor laser operating at room temperature. The continuous-wave operation allows the transmission of telephone conversations.
Dave Payne and Alex Gambling at Univ. of Southampton
Calculated pulse spreading of an optical pulse in an optical fiber should be zero at 1.27 micrometers.
J. Jim Hsieh
Makes InGaAsP lasers emitting continuously at 1.25 micrometers.
Masaharu Horiguchi Hiroshi Osanai
Experiments conducted on transmission through optical fiber at 1.55 micrometers.
Masaharu Horiguchi (NTT Ibaraki Lab) and Hiroshi Osanai (Fujikura Cable
Make first fibers with low loss -- 0.47 decibel per kilometer -- at long wavelengths, 1.2 micrometers.
John M J Madey
A group at Stanford University demonstrated the first Free Electron Laser (FEL). Free electron lasers do not use transitions of electrons bound to atoms from higher energy levels to lower ones, they use electrons moving near the speed of light.
Kurzweil Reading Machine
Introduced. This included the first CCD (Charge Coupled Device) flatbed scanner and the first omni-font OCR (Optical Character Recognition) software.
Announces one-million hours (100 year) extrapolated lifetime for diode lasers.
General Telephone & Electronics
Sends first live telephone traffic through fiber optics, 6 Mbit/s in Long Beach CA.
KO Hill & coworkers
Discover Photosensitivity of Germanium-doped Silica.
NTT Ibaraki Lab
Makes single-mode Fiber with the lowest loss and furthest transmission of the time.
Transmits 32 million bits per second through a record 53 kilometers of graded-idex fiber at 1.3 micrometers.