Thursday, May 21, 2009

Robert Maurer, Donald Keck and Peter Schultz

While working for Corning Glass, Robert Maurer, Donald Keck and Peter Schultz invented fiber optic wire. Fiber optic wire carries up to 65,000 times as much information as copper wire and was a transformative technology in the world of communications. Without this breakthrough, the current “information age” would have been severely limited by the bandwidth limitations of the older technologies.

Corning remains one of the six major fiber optic companies operating today and nearly all of the fiber optic cable distributed across the United States is based closely to the Maurer, Keck, Schultz design. It is impossible to estimate the total wealth generated by this revolutionary technology, but over 1/3 of Corning’s $5 billion in annual revenues comes from its telecommunications division. Verizon’s plans to spend nearly $23 billion between 2004 and 2010 on installing their own nationwide fiber optic network gives another small glimpse into the incredible wealth generating capabilities of this technology.

Today, over 80 percent of the world’s long-distance communications are transmitted using fiber optic cable. The improvement in communication efficiency provided by fiber optics was a key driver of the worldwide economic expansion of the 1990’s. For their scientific achievements, Maurer, Keck and Schultz received many awards and accolades including the National Medal of Technology, the nation’s highest honor. For the enormous contribution to the growth of the worldwide economy, today they can add one more accolade: Heroes of Capitalism (I’m sure that one is almost as important to them as that National Medal of Technology)

More on Fiber Optics

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