American Optical History  -
AO Fiber Optics

Early 1953 Dr. Brian O’Brien joins AO (Todd-AO his top priority)
Sept 1954- AO Hires Will Hicks / CIA
Mid –1957 Image Scrambler Project ends after Hicks tells CIA code easy to break
1958 – Hicks leaves AO and Forms Mosaic Fabrications in Sturbridge
1960 – Eli Snitzer (AO): single mode wavelength patent

Nov 2014 photo of Dick Whitney and Will Hicks in the Optical Heritage Museum

Laser Focus World Obit for Will Hicks 19-Feb-15

In Memory of Will Hicks - Feb 2015

Will Hicks made major contributions to fiber optics as an inventor, an entrepreneur, and a visionary. The most important of his many inventions was the single-mode optical fiber, which others enhanced to make it the backbone of the global telecommunications network. His first company, Mosaic Fabrications, was a pioneer in fused fiber devices, and he founded a series of other companies in central Massachusetts. As a visionary, he was among the first to envision today's high-capacity fiber-optic systems that can transmit many optical signals at different wavelengths simultaneously through one single-mode fiber. I am sorry to hear of his passing, but pleased that he lived to see his work enable the global fiber-optic telecommunications network.



Jeff Hecht, science and technology writer Author, City of Light: The Story of Fiber Optics

525 Auburn St. Auburndale, MA 02466 USA

The following wording is contained on a plaque from  IEEE Global History Network, and will be located near the AO Sculpture
in front of the former AO Main plant in Southbridge.

A look back at the Dedication ceremonies - Friday, Oct 26th, 2012
Link to photos of that day

The First Optical Fiber Laser and Amplifier, 1961-1964

In 1961, Elias Snitzer and colleagues constructed and operated the world's first optical fiber laser in the former AO complex at 14 Mechanic Street. Three years later this team demonstrated the first optical fiber amplifier. Fiber lasers that can cut and weld steel have since become powerful industrial tools and fiber amplifiers now routinely boost signals in the global optical fiber network allowing messages to cross oceans and continents without interruption

In Memory of Dr. Elias Snitzer  - Fiber Optics Pioneer
Download obit

About Will Hicks and Fiber optics

Will's work at American Optical included the first fused fiber bundles, used for medical imaging and image scramblers, and the first fiber-optic faceplates, used in image intensifiers.
He also drew the first single-mode fibers (as part of fused fiber bundles). In summary,  Will Hicks began his long career of fiber-optic invention at American Optical in Southbridge MA, where he made the first fused fiber bundles, used for medical imaging and fiber-optic bundles, and drew the first single-mode fibers. 


- Best, Jeff Hecht

Download 1967 AO News Article on AO Fiber Optics
2mb pdf

AO Fiber optics 1970's photo; George Carpenter holding the scope, with Ernie Bousqet in the grey coat

AO Fiber Optics photos from the 1970s -
showing application to Medical/Vetrinarian use above and AO Illuminator (Below)
Courtesy of the Optical Heritage Museum

Fiber Optics History book
Learn about AO / Fiber Optics
in Jeff Hecht's book "City of Light"

Schott Fiber Optics (Southbridge) was AO Fiber optics as outlined in the above Article

Thea Marcoux of SCHOTT North America, her Window display (Jan 19, 2010)

Night View shows the beauty of the Fiber Optics display

Southbridge SCHOTT Fiber optics employees
L to R- Robert Hughes, Brigitte Esposito, Julie Zuidema and Thea Marcoux

Thea Marcoux of SCHOTT North America, Inc. demonstrates a
SpectraStream Glass Fiber Optic Lighting Harness

Brigitte Esposito and Thea Marcoux prior to SCHOTT window display setup - January 19, 2010

Read about other AO Product Firsts

Dick Whitney

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