Charles K. Kao Biography, Wiki, Age, Career, Google Doodle | Who was Charles K. Kao? Bio, Wiki

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Who was Charles K. Kao?

Sir Charles Kuen Kao (4 November 1933 – 23 September 2018) was a Chinese-born British-American electrical engineer and physicist who pioneered the development and use of fiber optics in telecommunications.

In the 1960s, Kao created various methods to combine glass fibers with lasers in order to transmit digital data, which laid the groundwork for the evolution of the Internet.

Google Doodle celebrates ‘father of fiber optics’ Charles K. Kao

 Google Doodle celebrates 'father of fiber optics' Charles K. Kao
Google Doodle celebrates ‘father of fiber optics’ Charles K. Kao

Today’s Doodle celebrates the visionary Chinese-born, British-American physicist and educator Charles K. Kao, considered the “godfather of broadband”, the “father of fiber optics” and the “father of fiber optic communications” whose innovations revolutionized global communication and laid the groundwork for today’s high-speed internet.

In 1966, a Chinese-born electrical engineer and physicist named Charles K. Kao co-authored a proposal that would revolutionize global communications and lay the groundwork for the internet we know today.

Along with collaborator George Hockham, Kao proposed using thin glass fibers to transmit data across long distances, replacing the bulky copper wires then in use in telecommunications. Though initially rejected, his proposal would transform communications technology and the industry as a whole.

To highlight Kao’s contribution to technology, Google will honor the engineer on Thursday with a Doodle celebrating his 88th birthday. The animated Doodle depicts Kao, widely known as “the father of fiber optics,” using a green fiber laser to transmit data from one end of the Doodle to the other.

Charles K. Kao Biography, Wiki

Charles Kuen Kao was born on this day in 1933 in Shanghai, China. Drawn to intellectual work early in life with notable academic success, he went on to study electrical engineering in England. He supported his graduate studies as an engineer at Standard Telephones and Cables Ltd., where his colleagues invented the laser in 1960.

Shortly after earning his doctorate, Kao and his collaborator George Hockham published a groundbreaking paper in 1966 that proposed fibers fabricated with purified glass could carry a gigahertz (1 billion hertz) of information over long distances using lasers.

Kao led the development of this revolutionary technology, and in 1977, the first telephone network carried live signals through optical fibers. By the 1980s, Kao was overseeing the implementation of fiber-optic networks worldwide.

Kao was a dedicated educator in addition to being a trailblazing researcher. Beginning in 1987, he spent nearly a decade as Vice-Chancellor of The Chinese University of Hong Kong and founded Hong Kong’s Independent Schools Foundation.

Kao’s landmark research in the 1960s earned him a joint Nobel Prize in Physics in 2009 and cleared the path for the over 900 million miles of fiber-optic cables that carry massive quantities of data across the globe today.

Charles K. Kao Biography Wikipedia
Charles K. Kao
Full NameCharles Kuen Kao
Born4 November 1933
Shanghai
Died23 September 2018 (aged 84)
Sha Tin, Hong Kong
CitizenshipUnited Kingdom
United States
Alma materUniversity College London (Ph.D. 1965, issued by University of London)
Woolwich Polytechnic (BSc 1957 issued by University of London)
Known forFiber optics
Fiber-optic communication

Charles K. Kao Family and Wife

Kao’s father Kao Chun-Hsiang was a lawyer who obtained his Juris Doctor from the University of Michigan Law School in 1925. He was a professor at Soochow University (then in Shanghai) Comparative Law School of China.

His grandfather Gao Xie was a scholar, poet, artist, and a leading figure of the South Society during the late Qing Dynasty. Several writers including Gao Xu, Yao Guang, and Gao Zeng were also Gao’s close relatives.

His father’s cousin was astronomer Kao Ping-tse (Kao crater is named after him). Kao’s younger brother Timothy Wu Kao is a civil engineer and Professor Emeritus at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. His research is in hydrodynamics.

Kao met his future wife Gwen May-Wan Kao in London after graduation when they worked together as engineers at Standard Telephones and Cables. She is British Chinese. They were married in 1959 in London and had a son and a daughter, both of whom reside and work in Silicon Valley, California. According to Kao’s autobiography, Kao was a Catholic who attended Catholic Church while his wife attended Anglican Communion.

Charles K. Kao with his wife
Charles K. Kao with his wife

Charles K. Kao Career

In 1957, shortly after graduating from College, Charles K. Kao joined Standard Telephones & Cables (STC), a British subsidiary of International Telephone & Telegraph Co (ITT). For one year, he was made to rotate through different sections, eventually settling down in the microwave division in 1958.

In 1960, he applied for a lectureship at Loughborough Polytechnic; but decided to stay back when STC offered him a job at their research unit, the Standard Telecommunication Laboratories (STL), at Harlow. Their lawyers took care of the legal matters pertaining to the Polytechnic, also having his house deposit refunded.

In 1963, Kao joined STL’s optical communications research team. Initially working with Antoni E. Karbowiak, his task was to investigate fiber attenuation, in course of which he started collecting samples, investigating the properties of bulk glasses.

In late 1963, he was appointed head of the electro-optics research group, succeeding Karbowiak in the post. By then, he had realized that light loss in fibers was caused by impurities in them. He now decided to abandon Karbowiak’s plan and started working on a new direction.

In 1964, as George Alfred Hockham joined Kao’s team, they started investigating not only optical physics but also material properties. Meanwhile, in December 1964, Charles K. Kao took over STL’s optical communication program. Concurrently, he started working for his doctoral degree, receiving his Ph.D. degree from the University of London in 1965.

In 1966, Kao and Hockham submitted their first paper, ‘Dielectric fiber surface waveguides for optical frequencies, at a London meeting of the Institution of Electrical Engineers. In this paper, they proposed that fibers made of ultra-pure glass could transmit light for distances of kilometers without a total loss of signal.

Continuing to work on the concept, they were able to measure the intrinsic loss of bulk-fused silica at 4 dB/km in 1969. It became the first evidence of ultra-transparent glass.

In 1970, the first practical fiber-optic cable was successfully produced. Also in the same year, Charles K. Kao took two years’ leave of absence from STL and joined the faculty of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, helping it to set up its electronics department. The leave was later extended till 1974.

By 1974, Kao moved to the USA, where he became the Chief Scientist at ITT’s Electro-Optical Products Division in Roanoke, Virginia. By then, his concept of fiber optic cables had reached the pre-production development stage and the company wanted him to oversee the work.

In 1981, he was promoted to the post of the Vice President and Director of Engineering at the same division. Next in 1983, he was appointed the Executive Scientist and Director of Research, Advanced Technology Center in Shelton, Connecticut, a position he held till 1987.

Charles K. Kao Awards

Kao was awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physics for “groundbreaking achievements concerning the transmission of light in fibers for optical communication”. In 2010 he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for “services to fibre optic communications”

Charles K. Kao FAQ’s

Who was Charles K. Kao?

Sir Charles Kuen Kao (4 November 1933 – 23 September 2018) was a Chinese-born British-American electrical engineer and physicist who pioneered the development and use of fiber optics in telecommunications.

When did Charles K. Kao die?

Charles K. Kao died on 23 September 2018.

Who is Charles K. Kao’s wife?

Kao met his future wife Gwen May-Wan Kao in London after graduation when they worked together as engineers at Standard Telephones and Cables. She is British Chinese. They were married in 1959 in London and had a son and a daughter, both of whom reside and work in Silicon Valley, California. According to Kao’s autobiography, Kao was a Catholic who attended Catholic Church while his wife attended Anglican Communion.

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