Ethernet Turns Thirty

Robert M. "Bob" Metcalfe invented the local-area networking standard he called Ethernet on May 22, 1973, at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center. Ethernet originally meant a shared media LAN. It is greatly changed today, but the name still sticks for a set of networking protocols that have become ubiquitous in the past 30 years. Metcalfe went on to co-found 3Com in 1979, then became a publisher and pundit in the 1990s, serving as CEO of InfoWorld, where he also wrote a column. He recently became a venture capitalist and is in his third year as a general partner at Polaris Venture Partners in Waltham, Massachusetts. He spoke with Computerworld about Ethernet as a venture model and where the technology is headed.

Where is Ethernet headed?

It's already gone places never intended, and they're working on 40 gigabits per second, and we started at 2.94 megabits per second, which we thought was dazzlingly fast. And it's also being used in applications like metro access and 802.11 wireless. In the future, 10-gigabit, 40-gigabit and 100-gigabit Ethernet are going to make Fibre Channel unnecessary, and it will fall just the way FDDI fell. Cellular telephone is under attack by 802.11. ... Third, Sonet, which is the telco Level 1 and 2, is slowly being replaced by higher-speed and cheaper Ethernet. All those may or may not fall to Ethernet. We're already at 10-gigabit Ethernet, but it is being adopted slowly because the price is too high for most. How often have I heard that story? The adoption of 10 mbps was slow because the price was too high. AppleTalk at 250 kbps was a lot cheaper, and 10 megabits had a steep hill to climb. Prices come down, and performance goes up.

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News source: PCWorld - Ethernet Turns Thirty

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