Optical Fiber Communication 2000
Not Your Father's OFC
Here is a collection of pictures taken at OFC 2000, which was held in Baltimore during the week of March 6. This year marked the 25th anniversary of OFC. I attended the conference and exhibition wearing my hat as VP of Engineering of SRICO, Inc. We had a booth (see picture #21 below) displaying our wideband intensity modulators. The attendance at OFC for the entire week was over 17,000, considerably exceeding expectations. At the show, there was a 25th anniversary nostalgic look back at developments in the fiber optics industry by many of its pioneers. It was nice to see the fathers of the industry, like Elias Snitzer, Charlie Kao, Dave Payne and many others. Drs. Kao and Hockham were the first to be awarded the Rank Prize for Optoelectronics in 1978, a distinction I shared with Professor, Sir D.E.N. Davies in 1984.
Clearly, the annual Optical Fiber Communication conference is not your father's OFC. It has matured from its early academic incarnation to a very dynamic industrial show, now driven by the Internet and dot com frenzy. The main interest of course, was Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing (DWDM). The exhibition halls were crawling with VC's (Venture Capitalists) looking for their next hot investment. OFC is now the COMDEX of the fiber optics world, and next year's show (OFC 2001 was to be held in San Francisco during the week of March 15, 2001) will be even larger! In early May it was announced that OFC 2001 has been moved to the much larger Anaheim Convention Center, across the way from Disneyland. If there was any doubt 28 years ago when I entered the fiber optics profession, that the wave of the future was photonics, this show surely proved that we are now truly living in the "Photonics Age". Optical SETI will likely never be as large as Optical Fiber Communications, but I have the confidence to predict that we shall see a tremendous growth in OSETI activities during the first decade of this new Millennium. Before I got involved with SPIE in hosting the OSETI conferences, I did make the suggestion to the then OFC chairman, that I would not be adverse to being invited to give a "fun" OSETI talk to conference attendees - "And Now for Something Completely Different". This offer still stands. Is anyone listening?
Some of you may have heard the rumor that Fiber Optics Technology is not of this Earth and is somehow based on recovered "Alien" technology. As one of the fathers (old-timers) of the fiber optics industry I can refute this - I was there!
Dr. Stuart A. Kingsley