The use of light to send messages is not new. Fires were used for signaling in biblical times, smoke signals have been used for thousands of years and flashing lights have been used to communicate between warships at sea since the days of Lord Nelson. The idea of using glass fiber to carry an optical communication signal originated with Alexander Graham Bell. However this idea had to wait some 80 years for better glasses and low-cost electronics for it to become useful in practical situations. Development of fibers and devices for optical communications began in the early 1960s and continues strongly today. But the real change came in the 1980s. During this decade optical communication in public communication networks developed from the status of a curiosity into being the dominant technology.