The principles of transmitting light by total internal reflection were put forth in 1621. It wasn't until 1854, however, that the Englishman John Tyndall observed water spewing horizontally out of a rain barrel in the bright sunlight and noted that the reflected light seemed to be swept along with the water as it arced to the ground, rather than emerging from the water in a straight line. Tyndall reproduced this phenomenon in his laboratory, and began to experiment with light transmission through total internal reflection. This was the basis of all fiber optic development.
One of the first practical uses of fiber optics was discovered in the 1950’s when Kapany bundled glass fibers together into a coherent arrangement to make the first fiberscope. This was used to view internal body organs. The fiberscope has many industrial and aerospace uses.
Because of its high attenuation, optical fiber was originally not considered for use in communication. However, in 1970 Keck and Mauer of Corning Glass developed a stepped index fiber with a loss of no more than 20 dB per kilometer. Today, new combinations of core and cladding material have provided fiber with a loss far below Keck’s “20 dB” fiber.