Fiber optics were first created in 1880 by Alexander Graham Bell, he patented something called a “photophone” that used light to transmit phone calls. These long strands actually fibers of glass conducted light over long distances but faded rather quickly. They use light instead of electricity to communicate information. (Straubhaar and LaRose) In 1958 researchers found a better way to make fiber optics more practical by using intense beams of light that were pure and concentrated. These strands were virtually immune to electrical interference that had plagued copper wire systems. These systems carry information at gigabit speeds with few errors. (Straubhaar and LaRose) The fiber optic lines are optically pure glass that is as thin as human hair. (How Stuff Works )
The first fiber optic telephone cables appeared in 1977 and have been replacing coaxial cables and microwave connections in voice, data and video applications. The new fiber optics have been paving the way for new digital channels and two-way internet and telephone services.(Straubhaar and LaRose) The speed of these doubles about every 18 months as new ways to combine multiple light sources in a single strand of glass. (Straubhaar and LaRose)
How are these strands arranged? It consists of a core, cladding- which reflects the light back into the core- and a buffer coating. There are two different types of optical fibers; single-mode or multi-mode fibers. And then they are bundled together and are protected by an outer covering known as a jacket. In order to be able to relay a message the systems have to go through; transmitters, optical fibers, optical regenerators and optical receivers.

There are some major advantages to using fiber optics compared to using the copper wire methods. For instance; they’re less expensive, thinner and lighter, have a higher carrying capacity, lower signal degradation, require lighter signals and lower power, enable digital signals, are nonflammable and are more flexible.(How Stuff Works)



Straubhaar and LaRose, Media Now: Understanding Media, Culture, and Technology, 4th edition. 7 Nov. 2009
How Stuff Works, Fiber Optics. http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/fiber-optic4.htm, 7 Nov. 2009