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Corning Receives IEEE Milestone Award for Invention of First Low-Loss Optical Fiber

Commemorative plaque to be installed at Sullivan Park Research Center

1 May 2012 – Today, IEEE presented Corning Incorporated with an IEEE Milestone in Electrical Engineering and Computing award for the invention of low-loss optical fiber, which played a pivotal role in changing the way the world communicates.

Low-loss optical fiber was invented by three Corning scientists – Dr. Robert Maurer, Dr. Peter Schultz, and Dr. Donald Keck – 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. Today, there are more than 1.6 billion kilometers of fiber installed around the world.

“The demonstration of low-loss transmission through optical fiber showed us immediately that optical communications could be practical,” said Gordon Day, IEEE President and CEO.  “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.”

The IEEE Milestone in Electrical Engineering and Computing Award is an initiative of the IEEE History Center. Since establishing the program in 1983, the IEEE has awarded more than 100 Milestone awards around the world. The IEEE Milestones recognize the work of leading inventors, including Benjamin Franklin, Samuel F. B. Morse, Alexander Graham Bell, and Thomas Edison; and innovative companies, including Westinghouse, Philips, IBM, and HP. This most recent IEEE Milestone dedication is sponsored by the IEEE Photonics Society, which is focused on the field of quantum electronics.


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