Google Doodle celebrates Charles K. Kao, the Father of fiber optics

November 4, 2021

To highlight Charles K. Kao’s contribution to technology, Google is honoring the engineer today with a Doodle celebrating his 88th birthday. The animated Doodle depicts Kao, widely known as “the father of fiber optics,” using a green fiber laser to transmit data from one end of the Doodle to the other.

Charles K. Kao’s research transformed the communications industry. In 1966, the Chinese-born electrical engineer and physicist co-authored a proposal that would revolutionize global communications and lay the groundwork for the internet we know today. Along with collaborator George Hockham, Kao proposed using thin glass fibers to transmit data across long distances, replacing the bulky copper wires then in use in telecommunications. Though initially rejected, his proposal would transform communications technology and the industry as a whole.

At the time, glass fibers could carry light pulses for telephone signals only 20 meters (65 feet) before nearly all the light dissipated. But Kao’s 1966 landmark paper Dielectric-Fiber Surface Waveguides for Optical Frequencies suggested it would be possible to transmit light signals more than 100 kilometers (62 miles) across a fiber of ultrapure glass.

by Anil George
Avid follower of all things tech. In between his quest for the ultimate gizmo, Anil fiddles with light meters, collects rare books and feeds his fetish for Jap horror movies. As Managing Editor of T3 Middle East for the GCC, Anil oversees content direction across print and digital. He was a CES 2020 Innovation Awards Judge, reprising his role as an Innovation Awards Judge at CES 2018, CES 2017, 2016 and 2015. Anil is also the Middle East's first Brand Ambassador for Ashdown Engineering. Reach him at: editor@t3me.com.