Many wonderful stories have contributed to the growth and worldwide renown of the fiber optics industry. From its improbable roots in the 1960s and the important early laser work by Stewart Miller and colleagues at Bell Laboratories to seminal discoveries by Coming’s Don Keck, Robert Maurer, and Peter Schultz in 1970 demonstrating that it is feasible to send photons through a glass in a commercially attractive way, fiber optics has been a story of great success and achievement.
In many ways the growth of this technology embodies what is best about our culture and our world. The early discovery and commercialization of fiber optics are a tribute to the free-enterprise system, where creative and ingenious individuals took so many undefined laboratory phenomena and molded them into what has become an absolutely critical communications form for the twenty-first century.
It is relatively easy to recount how fiber optics grew into today’s indispensable communications medium. The real work was performed by men and women who took concepts and ideas and engineered them into reality: They are the real heroes of this book. Their work took thousands of man hours and led to many frustrations. Yet in the end it improved and continues to improve how we communicate, do business, indeed even think about the world.