Charles Kao Birthday & Fun Facts

Height, Age, Net Worth, Biography & More

Martha Martins
Jan 31, 2024 By Martha Martins
Originally Published on May 20, 2022
Sire Charles K. Kao is an engineer and physicist who laid the groundwork for the invention of the internet.
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Read time: 4.0 Min

About Charles K. Kao

Charles K. Kao is known as Sir Charles Kuen Kao KBE FRS GBM FREng, and he was an electrical engineer and physicist. 
Kao was born on September 4, 1933, in Shanghai, China, and died on September 23, 2018 in Sha Tin, Hong Kong. Charles K. Kao was the first person to explore the usage and development of fiber optics in telecommunications. 
He created several methods to attach glass fibers with layers to transmit digital data in the '60s. It helped lay the groundwork for the invention of the internet. 
Charles Kuen Kao moved to Hong Kong when he was 15 and grew up in Taiwan and Hong Kong. He has a younger brother, Timothy Wu Kao, with whom he studied Chinese classes at home. His brother is a Professor Emeritus at the University of America and an engineer (civil) who did his research in hydrodynamics. 
At the Shanghai World School, based in the Shanghai French Concession, he studied French and English. This institution was founded by many progressive Chinese educators, like Cai Yuanpei. 
His father Kao Chun-Hsiang was a lawyer, who finished his Juris Doctor from the University of Michigan Law School in 1925. Also, he worked as a professor at Soochow University Comparative Law School of China.
Kao Hsieh was his grandfather. He was a poet, artist, scholar, and a leading figure of the Qing Dynasty from the South Society. Many other writers like Yao Kuang, Kao Hsu, and Kao Tseng are his relatives.  

Charles K. Kao's Net Worth, Earnings & Spending Habits

What was Charles K. Kao’s net worth?

Before the China-born star's death, his net worth was approximately $500,000.

Height, Age & Physical Attributes

How tall was Charles K. Kao?

Charles K. Kao is 5 ft 8 in (172 cm) tall. 

How old was Charles K. Kao?

At the time of his death, the chief scientist was 84-years-old. 

Childhood And Education

In 1952, Charles K. Kao finished his secondary education (Hong Kong School Certificate Examination) at St. Joseph's College. At Woolwich Polytechnic, he completed his undergraduate studies and earned an electrical engineering degree. 
After becoming an electrical engineer, the China-born personality did research and got his Ph.D. from the University of London in 1965. Under Harold Barlow from the University College London, he got a Ph.D. and worked at a laboratory in the research center of Standard Telephones and Cables, Harlaw, England. 
Additionally, under Alec Reeves's supervision, Chao did his first groundbreaking work as a researcher and engineer with George Hockham. 

Family, Romance, And Relationships

Who was Charles K. Kao’s partner?

After completing his graduation, Charles K. Kao met Gwen May-Wan Kao, his wife, in London. At Standard Telephones and Cables, the couple worked together as engineers. 
Gwen is British Chinese, and both got married in 1959. Kao and Gwen have two children, a daughter and a son, Amanda and Simon, who lives and work in Silicon Valley, California. 

Career And Professional Highlights

Best Known For…

Charles K. Kao is best known for finding out that glass fiber can be replaced with copper wires used for telecommunications. In 1997, he was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS).
The scientist demonstrated the high loss of existing fiber optics from glass impurities. He joined the optical communication research team in 1963 and summarized the background situation, and identified the key aspects. After he developed fiber optics, Bell Labs started to consider the material properties seriously. 
In 1970, the scientist joined the Chinese University of Hong Kong to work in the Department of Electronics, which has now become the Department of Electronic Engineering. In the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Kao was the chair Professor of Electronics.

Charity Work

In 2010, the Nobel Prize winner founded Charles K. Kao Foundation with his wife to raise awareness about Alzheimer's disease among the public and provide the necessary support. 

What awards did Charles K. Kao win?

The awards won by Charles K. Kao, who completed his studies in London, are; Stuart Ballantine Medal in 1977, IEEE Alexander Graham Bell Medal in 1985, IEEE Morris N. Liebmann Memorial Award in 1978, Marconi Prize in 1985, James C. McGroddy Prize for New Materials in 1989, C&C Prize in 1987, Faraday Medal in 1989, Charles Stark Draper Prize in 1999, FREng in 1989, CBE in 1992, SPIE Gold Medal in 1992, Prince Philip Medal in 1996, Asian of the Century in 1999, 3463 Kaokuen in 1996, Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2010, Japan Prize in 1996, FRS in 1997, Grand Bauhinia Medal in 2010, Nobel Prize in Physics in 2009.

Charles K. Kao’s Hobbies And Interests

The scientist from London University had a hobby of pottery making and reading Wuxia novels. 

Other Interesting Charles K. Kao Facts And Trivia

  • Charles K. Kao went to several polymer and glass factories to discuss with scientists, engineers, and businessmen and make necessary improvements in glass fiber manufacture.
  • He also had dual citizenship, one from the United States and another from the United Kingdom.  

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Charles Kao Birthday & Fun Facts Facts

Date of Birth


Date of Death




Place of Birth



172 cm


Engineer, Physicist

Net Worth



Gwen May-Wan Kao


Kao Chun-Hsiang, King Tsing Fong


Timothy Wu Kao
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Written by Martha Martins

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Linguistics

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Martha MartinsBachelor of Arts specializing in Linguistics

Martha is a full-time creative writer, content strategist, and aspiring screenwriter who communicates complex thoughts and ideas effectively. She has completed her Bachelor's in Linguistics from Nasarawa State University. As an enthusiast of public relations and communication, Martha is well-prepared to substantially impact your organization as your next content writer and strategist. Her dedication to her craft and commitment to delivering high-quality work enables her to create compelling content that resonates with audiences.

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