The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) has granted a Milestone Award in Electrical Engineering and Computing to Corning Inc. for the company's invention of low-loss optical fiber, "which played a pivotal role in changing the way the world communicates," Corning said when announcing its honor. The IEEE Milestone Award recognizes significant technical achievement and innovation that occurred at least 25 years ago, Corning explained.
Three Corning scientists - Dr. Robert Maurer, Dr. Peter Schultz and Dr. Donald Keck - invented low-loss optical fiber, Corning said, "after representatives of the British Post Office came to Corning in the mid-1960s seeking assistance in creating pure glass fiber optics. The scientists produced an optical fiber having a total attenuation of about 17 decibels per kilometer, far superior to the best bulk optical glasses of the day, which had attenuations of approximately 1,000 dB/km." The three scientists have been inducted into the Inventors Hall of Fame and were awarded the National Medal of Technology in 2000, Corning added.
IEEE's president and chief executive officer Gordon Day commented, "The demonstration of low-loss transmission through optical fiber showed us immediately that optical communications could be practical. But few recognized, or could have recognized, that in a few decades it would change the lives of almost everyone in the world. The first low-loss fiber was a truly defining moment in the history of technology in the 20th century."
Corning Optical Fiber's senior vice president and general manager Marty Curran stated, "Corning is honored to receive this highly prestigious award from IEEE. Corning's 1970 invention of low-loss optical fiber, and the manufacturing process used to produce it, together revolutionized the telecommunications industry and changed the world forever. The explosion of the Internet and other information technologies would not have been possible without optical fiber." Corning also noted that today there are more than 1.6 billion kilometers of optical fiber installed worldwide.