It was the fall of 1992, and the World Wide Web wasn’t even a thing yet.  But the company that eventually became Ciena was officially born when David Huber, a former General Instruments engineer, had an idea for how to help cable companies squeeze more television channels through their lines to end consumers.

Over the next year and a half, Pat Nettles, Larry Huang and Steve Chaddick joined Huber to create the founding four. Soon the company had a name, Ciena, and had zeroed in on a clear objective, enabling DWDM on the fiber networks of the U.S. long distance phone companies.

This fall marks the 25th anniversary of Ciena’s founding.  To celebrate, we’re digging into our archives to bring you a series of blog posts highlighting the stories and pictures from our rich history of people and innovation.

To start, we’ve found 25 of our best pictures from the last 25 years.  Some show the earliest days of the Ciena team.  Some show how far we’ve come.

Like these pictures? We've posted more to our Facebook page.

We’d like your pictures too.  If you have pictures that show Ciena’s history, email them to me. We’ll be posting pictures from throughout our history to our Facebook page across the rest of the year.

Ciena founders

This small and fuzzy picture is the earliest we've discovered of the four Ciena founders. From left to right: Pat Nettles, Larry Huang, Steve Chaddick and David Huber.


Ciena crate

This crate holds the first Ciena product ever shipped. It was the MultiWave 1600 DWDM platform, shipped to Sprint in early 1996. Several of Ciena's early team members signed the crate.


Ciena Firefly

No, this multi-handed creature is not a bee. It's the Ciena Firefly, a mascot that promoted Ciena's MultiWave Firefly product unveiled at the NFOEC Conference in 1997. MultiWave Firefly provided shorthaul DWDM at 2.5Gbps per channel for a max capacity of 60Gbps per fiber.


Ciena ribbon cutting

Then CEO (and now Executive Chairman of the BOD) Patrick Nettles (left), former Ciena CFO Joe Chinnici (right) and others at a 1996 public ribbon cutting ceremony for Ciena's first corporate headquarters in Linthicum, Maryland.


All Optical Networks Consortium graphic

The vision of an All-Optical Network, circa 1994.  This diagram was created by now Ciena CTO Steve Alexander while he was still at MIT.


Ciena lab

The backside of a rack of Ciena gear, and a good look at the trendsetting Ciena fashion from the early days at the company, courtesy of Victor Mizahi, Ciena's Chief Scientist in the late 90's.


Gary Smith and Steve Alexander

Pictures of CEO Gary Smith and CTO Steve Alexander in their much younger years at Ciena.


Ciena booth SuperComm 1996

A pictures from the Ciena booth at SuperComm 1996. Clearly getting 40G to go 600km on a single fiber was a big deal.


Marvin and Mike Ciena customers

Early days in the lab with a few Ciena customers and Ciena' MultiWave platform.


Gary Smith opening bell NASDAQ 2002

Ciena CEO Gary Smith and team ring the opening bell at the NASDAQ stock exchange on January 11, 2002.


Francois Locoh-Donou Ciena booth NFOEC 1997

A young Francois Locoh-Donou, our former COO, on the Ciena booth at NFOEC 1997.


Ciena Mascot LightWorks Lou

Not to be overshadowed by the Ciena Firefly, LightWorks Lou was Ciena's primary mascot over many of the early years at Ciena. Rumor has it that he still pops up from time-to-time around the Ciena offices.


Gary Smith and Philippe Morin Nortel MEN Ottawa

Gary Smith and Philippe Morin, Ciena's former Senior VP and President of the Nortel MEN business, at the 2010 event in Ottawa Celebrating Ciena's acquisition of Nortel's optical business.


Gary Smith in Ottawa 2010 celebrating Nortel acquisition

CEO Gary Smith welcomes the Nortel Ottawa team to Ciena at the 2010 event celebrating the Nortel optical acquisition.


Ciena employee riding bull

Honestly we have no idea what's going on here.  If you do please let us know.


Larry Huang

Larry Huang, one of Ciena's four founding members.


Steve Alexander and Cecil Smith on switch

A picture from the early days at Ciena, with Steve Alexander (left) and teammate Cecil Smith with the company's MultiWave 1600 Transmission System inside the Sprint lab in Burlingame, California.  The two are "ceremoniously" switching the system on before the team began testing in the Sprint lab.


Dave Doucet and Michael Hubbard Ciena Vectors Ottawa R&D Labs 2013

Dave Doucet (left) and Michael Hubbard show off Ciena's new WaveLogic 3 coherent chipset that was shown to customers at our Ciena Vectors event from our Ottawa R&D Labs in 2013.


Ciena booth SuperComm 2001

Quite the display at the Ciena booth at this tradeshow (we think this is SuperComm 2001) where our new CoreDirector plaform rose above a wasteland of other vendor's useless equipment.


Ciena first manufacturing group 1995

Steve Alexander (bottom right) and most of Ciena's first manufacturing group, in the lab in 1995.


Ciena R&D lab Ottawa, Canada

The fiber innards of Ciena's R&D lab in Ottawa, Canada, circa 2011.


Cyan employees Ciena t-shirts

Former Cyan employees enjoyed a welcome celebration event in Petaluma, California, in 2015 to celebrate Ciena's acquisition of Cyan and their Blue Planet solution.


Ciena team NYSE 2014

Ciena CEO Gary Smith and team on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in April 2014. Ciena rang the opening bell to celebrate the company's move from NASDAQ to the NYSE exchange.


Innovation Lab truck Rome 2013

Ciena's mobile innovation lab on wheels makes a stop in Rome in 2013.


Ciena Headquarters Hanover, Maryland

Our new Ciena headquarters in Hanover, Maryland. Ciena moved from our previous campus in Linthicum, MD, in 2012.


Have pictures of your own from Ciena's history that you'd like to share? Email them to me and we'll add them to our collection that we're posting to our Facebook page throughout the rest of the year.