I have been involved with fiber optics for more than 30 years. I attended the first fiber-optic trade shows, when only about two dozen companies were working on the technology. I've seen astounding advances since then. Rates of fiber-optic transmission increased faster than Moore's Law, growing so fast that suddenly there was more transmission capacity than anyone knew what to do with. Fiber has grown from a laboratory technology to become the backbone of the global telecommunications network.
My degree is in electronic engineering, and I've used that technical background to write extensively about fiber-optic technology. For many years I have covered state-of-the-art developments and written tutorial articles. I wrote the first edition of Understanding Fiber Optics 20 years ago, and since then more than 100,000 copies have been sold. The book grew with the industry, and it's now in its fifth edition. It's a tutorial based on my 30 years of experience communicating about fiber optics. The descriptions are intuitive, and intended to give the reader a working knowledge of fiber optics and telecommunications.
I also drew on my experience in fiber optics to tell the story of the technology's development, from the first demonstrations of light guiding in jets of water in 1841 to the growth of the global fiber-optic network. It was fun to write, and I've done my best to make it fun to read.
Widely used as an introductory textbook,for corporate training, and as a self-study guide, Understanding Fiber Optics is written to give the reader an intuitive understanding of fiber-optic technology and its applications, particularly in communications. It opens with three chapters that introduce the reader to fiber optics as a whole, the optical technology behind fiber optics, and the field of telecommunications. Following chapters explain optical fibers and their properties, specialty fibers, cables, light sources, transmitters, receivers, and other important components. Two chapters cover measurements, testing, and troubleshooting. A series of chapters covers system concepts and standards, system design, and telecommunication systems ranging from the global telecommunications network to your local phone network. The final two chapters cover fiber-optic sensors and imaging bundles. Throughout, I concentrate on explaining concepts rather than deriving equations.
Throughout the book I have included many line drawings that simply explain basic concepts and equipment. Each chapter has both a multiple-choice quiz and a series of open-ended "Questions to Think About" for readers to test their knowledge. I also include appendices with tables of useful information, formulas, and references. A glossary explains terms and decrypts acronyms. A 16-page index makes it easy to find subjects inside the book, to make it a good reference both during the course and after the course. I fuss about these things so students and teachers won't have to waste their time looking for the missing pieces.
As the pace of change in fiber optics has slowed, I have taken time to go back and extensively rewrite the introductory chapters, and other chapters on specialty fibers, optics network design, Internet access, and local area networks. The fifth edition is based firmly in reality rather than the wild-eyed visions sparked by the Internet bubble. At the same time it reflects the continued evolution of the telecommunications industry. I have expanded coverage of several key topics:
Check the table of contents to see what the fifth edition contains. Or go direct to Amazon.com and order Understanding Fiber Optics (5th Edition).
Prentice Hall can supply an instructor's guide for teachers at educational institutions. If you have any trouble obtaining a copy or are involved in corporate training please e-mail me at [my first name][AT]fiberhome.com.
Whether you are a teacher, a student, or a self-study reader, I would be delighted to hear your suggestions for improvements. Please e-mail me [my first name][AT]fiberhome.com.
I have prepared a pair of 5-hour video courses based on Understanding Fiber Optics, which is being distributed by SPIE, the International Society for Optical Engineering. For details, please see the SPIE Web site.
I have taught short courses based on Understanding Fiber Optics at selected industry conferences, and am available for on-site courses in the northeastern US.
History can be fascinating and educational. I can't promise that reading about the history of fiber optics will bring a horde of venture capitalists to your door bearing money, but you will learn what made the technology so successful -- as well as hearing some fun stories. City of Light, part of the Sloan Technology Series, was published in Spring 1999 by Oxford University Press. It tells how the technology developed from early demonstrations of light guiding in flowing jets of water, through instruments that allow physicians to look inside the stomach without surgery, to the communication fibers that provide the backbone of today's global telecommunication network. There are tales of bright ideas, hard work, disappointment, and triumph. The cast ranges from the college undergraduate who made a key breakthrough to eminent professors of physics and independent-minded entrepreneurs. The trade paperback edition published in 2004 includes a new epilogue on the fiber-optic boom, the bubble, and the bust, bringing the story up to the present day.
In the nearly 30 years I have been involved with fiber optics, I have developed expertise in the technology, its applications, development trends, and history. Fiber-optic communication started on a small scale, with a handful of people around the world pursuing a dream. Today it's the backbone of the global telecommunications network. If you want to learn more about the field and where it's going, I will be glad to discuss how I can help you. Please e-mail me at [my first name][AT]fiberhome.com. I don't advise on stocks or investments; after the telecommunications bubble, I suspect the best place to stash your cash is in your mattress.