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Major anniversaries in telecommunications.

Several historic events in telecommunications are marking major anniversaries in 2008. For example, the first words across the Atlantic Ocean—via submerged telegraph cable—were sent on Aug. 16, 1858. In the Morse-code message, Great Britain’s Queen Victoria sent congratulations on the feat to American President James Buchanan. However, the system broke down quickly, like some of today’s telecom hero experiments. It took another seven years for a dependable telegraph cable to traverse the ocean.

This year marks the 20th birthday of the first transatlantic optical fiber cable, known as TAT-8. (TAT-1 through TAT-7, which were built between 1956 and 1978, used coaxial wires to carry phone calls.) TAT-8 was taken out of service in 2002, but capacity continues to grow. Today, more than 500,000 km of optical fiber carry data and voices underneath the world’s oceans.

Finally, the Defense Advance Research Projects Agency turns 50 this year. DARPA, of course, developed ARPAnet, the predecessor to the worldwide Internet.

(Above) Map of the first transatlantic telegraph cable route from Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, Aug. 21, 1858. Source: Wikipedia.org

[Patricia Daukantas is the senior writer/editor of Optics & Photonics News.]

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Did You Know?

Major anniversaries in telecommunications.

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