Comnet founder George Lichtblau dies

Innovator in fiber optics passes away at age 78
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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

DANBURY, Conn.—Comnet founder, CEO and long-time entrepreneur George J. Lichtblau passed away on Aug. 3, following a long battle with cancer. He was 78.

Lichtblau held more than 20 patents, many of them related to the two highly successful fiber optic transmission companies that he founded—International Fiber Systems, which was sold to GE Security in 2003, and Comnet, a major producer of fiber optic, Ethernet and wireless transmission products. Lichtblau was also a pioneer in RFID tag technology, inventing and then selling the technology to market leader Sensormatic in the ’70s.

“George was very interesting and extremely smart—he had a BA and MA in engineering from Princeton, and an MBA from Harvard,” Frank (Skip) Haight, Comnet’s vice president of marketing, told Security Systems News. “He got into fiber optics in the ’80s, and as an electrical engineer by trade, he was the one who figured out how to get multiple cameras on one fiber. He knew fiber is great because you can’t hack into it, and now with everything going IP—the bandwidth that you get on fiber is second to none.”

Haight, who worked with Lichtblau at IFS before helping him start Comnet, said that IFS was sold to GE in 2003 for almost $100 million.

“In 2008, he started Comnet, and here we are eight years later and Comnet is the biggest transmission product manufacturer in the country,” said Haight. “It is rare that you can come into an industry and do things twice and be so successful.”

In addition to being an innovator in the industry, Haight said that Lichtblau had great respect and loyalty from his employees.

“The most rewarding part of my whole career was working with him, and it has been a great place to work all of these years,” he said. “I think it says a lot about George’s character that 80 percent of the people who are at Comnet now were with him at IFS. He has taught a lot of people, including myself, so much.”