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Light Conversations in the Future
December 1974 Popular Mechanics Article

December 1974 Popular Mechanics
December 1974 Popular Mechanics - RF Cafe[Table of Contents]

Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early mechanics and electronics. See articles from Popular Mechanics, 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 Conversations in Future, December 1974 Popular Mechanics - RF CafeLight 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.

Fiber optic strand - RF CafeBell 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

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RF Cafe began life in 1996 as "RF Tools" in an AOL screen name web space totaling 2 MB. Its primary purpose was to provide me with ready access to commonly needed formulas and reference material while performing my work as an RF system and circuit design engineer. The World Wide Web (Internet) was largely an unknown entity at the time and bandwidth was a scarce commodity. Dial-up modems blazed along at 14.4 kbps while tying up your telephone line, and a nice lady's voice announced "You've Got Mail" when a new message arrived...

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