50 years of Ethernet

50 years ago, Robert Metcalfe (who was working at Xerox PARC in 1973), wrote the first memo (titled “Alto Ethernet”) outlining what would become the ubiquitous Ethernet protocol! The idea was first documented in a memo that Metcalfe wrote on May 22, 1973.

first ethernet cable

In 1979 he started a little company called 3com.
Ethernet was commercially introduced in 1980 and first standardized in 1983 as IEEE 802.3. Ethernet has since been refined to support higher bit rates, a greater number of nodes, and longer link distances, but retains much backward compatibility. Over time, Ethernet has largely replaced competing wired LAN technologies.


  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    happy 50th Birthday ETHERnet!

    computerphile explains how more than one machine can talk on the network at a time the whole wire has to be silent with only one signal on the wire at a time. If any other signal exists, then no-one may speak — but will wait a random interval to attempt to speak again (because only one packet may be spoken, and we know how long that takes) — the whole thing is patterened on Claude Shannon’s notion of a BIT — on may.22.1973 Bob Metcalfe proposed an ETHER Network which ‘Propagates Bits to All Stations’. coupled with this first physical layer definition, the notion of multiple machines on a single wire treating signals digitally instead of as analogue audio or radio data, and the notion of an ethernet Packet (a bunch of BITS) which has a originating IP (internet protocol) and destination IP address — and every packet of data in the network traverses the wandering saleman’s problem — this is where the modern world of networking was born https://youtu.be/TkOVgkcrvbg

  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    In 1973, researchers at Xerox PARC in California spawned the Ethernet. Originally created to allow Altos computers to communicate with each other, as well as with laser printers and with PARC’s gateway to the ARPANET, the technology is now the standard LAN worldwide.

    Ethernet is Still Going Strong After 50 Years The technology has become the standard LAN worldwide

    The Xerox Palo Alto Research Center in California has spawned many pioneering computer technologies including the Alto—the first personal computer to use a graphical user interface—and the first laser printer.

    The PARC facility also is known for the invention of Ethernet, a networking technology that allows high-speed data transmission over coaxial cables. Ethernet has become the standard wired local area network around the world, and it is widely used in businesses and homes. It was honored this year as an IEEE Milestone, a half century after it was born.

    Ethernet’s development began in 1973, when Charles P. Thacker—who was working on the design of the Alto computer—envisioned a network that would allow Altos to communicate with each other, as well as with laser printers and with PARC’s gateway to the ARPANET. PARC researcher Robert M. Metcalfe, an IEEE Fellow, took on the challenge of creating the technology. Metcalfe soon was joined by computer scientist David Boggs.

    Metcalfe and Boggs had two criteria: The network had to be fast enough to support their laser printer, and it had to connect hundreds of computers within the same building.

  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Ethernet is Still Going Strong After 50 Years The technology has become the standard LAN worldwide


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