May 4, 1998 SAN FRANCISCO -- As part of its participation in the world's largest technical conference on lasers and electro-optics, here this week, Lucent Technologies is celebrating the 40th anniversary of the publication of the scientific paper that described the concept and design for one of the century's greatest inventions - the laser.
Lasers today are used in communications, medicine, manufacturing, consumer electronics, scientific research and other areas. Telephone conversations, video, Internet traffic and other data are transmitted as beams of laser light through glass fibers, and the capacity of optical networks doubles every 18 months.
Since the invention of the laser, Lucent has generated several industry firsts in optical networking. In 1995, the company introduced the first commercial optical-networking system based on Bell Labs' pioneering dense wave division multiplexing (DWDM) technology. This technology is used by carriers worldwide as an economical means of expanding the capacity of their fiber-optic networks.
In January of this year, Lucent was first to unveil an optical-networking system that delivers up to 400 gigabits (billion bits) per second of information over a single strand of fiber -- equivalent to transporting the per-second traffic of the entire Internet over one fiber. Lucent is a leading provider of optical-networking systems and has delivered 1,100 DWDM systems to communications providers around the globe -- more than any other vendor.
The paper that started it all, "Infrared and Optical Masers," was written by Arthur L. Schawlow, then a Bell Labs scientist, and Charles H. Townes, at the time a consultant to Bell Labs, which is the research and development arm of Lucent Technologies.
Published in the August, 1958 issue of the American Physical Society journal Physical Review, it described the basic principles of the laser, initiating a new scientific field and laying the groundwork for a multibillion-dollar industry.
Bell Labs scientists and engineers will join their scientific colleagues from around the world to commemorate the event and honor Schawlow, Townes, and other leaders in laser technology at a reception at 6 p.m. today at the San Francisco Marriott Hotel.
The event will highlight the first full day of the joint Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics (CLEO) and the International Quantum Electronics Conference (IQEC) at the Moscone Center this week.
"The invention of the laser 40 years ago sowed the seeds of the optical communications revolution we are witnessing today," said Gerry Butters, president of Lucent's Optical Networking business unit. "Lasers are the building blocks for systems that can transmit hundreds of billions of bits of information every second of every day, and Lucent is taking this innovation even further - pushing the limits of bandwidth to triple-terabit capacity and beyond."
"The combined invention of the laser and optical fiber is the foundation for much of today's communications and the Internet," said Bill Spivey, president of Lucent's Network Products Group, which manufactures fiber optics for most of the world market.
"As the invention of the transistor changed the course of the electronics industry, the invention of the laser has opened the door to multi-billion-dollar businesses and has brought countless innovative products and services to reality," said John Pilitsis, vice president of the optoelectronics business of Lucent's Microelectronics Group.
Among those to be honored at the anniversary celebration are Schawlow, Townes, and others who have made notable contributions to laser technology over the past four decades.
CLEO/IQEC '98 will also include 23 technical presentations by Bell Labs scientists.
CLEO is sponsored by the OSA, a professional society of optical engineers and scientists devoted to advancing the fields of optics and photonics, in cooperation with the Quantum Electronics Division of the European Physical and Optical Society and the Japanese Quantum Electronic Joint Group.
IQEC is sponsored by the American Physical Society's Division of Laser Science, the IEEE Lasers and Electro-Optics Society and the OSA, in cooperation with the U.S. Joint Council on Quantum Electronics, International Council on Quantum Electronics, International Commission for Optics, and International Union of Pure and Applied Physics.
Lucent Technologies designs, builds and delivers a wide range of public and private networks, communications systems and software, consumer and business telephone systems and microelectronics components. Further information about Lucent Technologies is available on the worldwide web at http://www.lucent.com.
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