Charles K. Kao’s private life and family
Charles Kao is the third of four children in Shanghai. Charles and his siblings were raised by his father, Kao Chung-Hsiang, who was a lawyer. He received his law degree in 1925.
Charles lost two brothers at the age of ten, only his younger brother Timothy Wucao, who later became an engineering professor at the Catholic University of America.
They will start learning Chinese culture at a young age. In later life, after graduating from school, Charles Gao met his wife, Gwen May-Wan Kao, who was also an English and Chinese-born electrical engineer.
A few years after graduating from college, Charles worked for three years at the Telephone and Cable Company in North Woolwich, England, to finance his education.
It was here that he met his colleague Gwen from the company’s sound development company. Charles and Gwen were married in 1959 and will have a son in 1961 and a daughter in 1963, although Charles is Catholic and Gwen is Anglican.
Both of his children established their careers in Silicon Valley, California. Charles Lao’s family lived and worked in the UK for most of his adult life. His family joined them in England, where they would spend their lives.
In 1974, Charles Kao and his family moved to Virginia, USA, where he continued to develop his fiber optic project, which he submitted to the IEEE in 1966.
Worked for the International Telephone & Telegraph Company here in Roanoke, Virginia. , where he was named a scientist and then the company’s vice president and engineering director of optoelectronic product development.
Charles Kao lost his mother while working at ITT in 1976. After four years in England, her father joined them in Hong Kong, where they lived briefly, before returning to the United States to work as a Research Scientist at the US-ITT’s Center for Advanced Technology in Connecticut.
During this period the use of fiber optics spread all over the world and this kept Charles Kao very busy because he constantly had to move on to better research facilities and advice from other opticians and scientists around the world.