OSA Centennial Snapshots: The Fiber Optic Mania

Jeff Hecht

In the decade from 1996 to 2005, breakthroughs in fiber optics and networking transformed society and laid the groundwork for the global internet. The same decade showed how technological breakthroughs could bring economic turmoil.


The 2001 OFC conference, at the peak of the bubble, attracted nearly 38,000 attendees, breaking all previous attendance records. [Images reprinted from OPN, May 2001 / Background: iStock]

Fiber optic technology boomed in the decade from 1976 to 1986, going from cautious field trials of custom-built hardware to the backbone of the terrestrial telephone network within a decade. But that was only a small-scale preview of the tumultuous decade from 1996 to 2005, when dramatic advances in fiber optic technology created a business boom that became a bubble that burst with losses in the trillion-dollar range.

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Publish Date: 01 October 2016

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