Without the Ethernet modern commerce couldn't function. Our modern economy is heavily reliant on the fast, smooth transfer of data. I find it odd that the inventors of the networking system that allows this to occur are only known to computer geeks. Robert Metcalfe and David Boggs work on the Ethernet makes them as important to the 21st Century as the likes of Gutenburg where to the 15th Century.
The Ethernet is the system that allows computers to communicate with each other and devices such as printers and scanners. The computers are connected via a Local Area Network (LAN) via Ethernet cables and hubs. The network is closed to those who are not connected to the LAN. Ethernet differs from the internet that is an open network that uses telephone and broadband lands for the transfer of data.
Metcalfe and Boggs worked together at PARC (Palo Alto Research Center) the research centre for Xerox. Metcalfe came from and engineering and management background, Boggs from an Electrical Engineering and radio background. Whist working at PARC Metcalfe was charged with creating a system that would allow all the users to print to the new laser printer that Xerox had developed.
The idea of the Ethernet was first aired in a memo that Metcalfe sent out to Xerox staff in May 1973. The system was up and functioning by November 1973. It can be claimed that the two of them co-invented the Ethernet. Metcalfe came up with the idea and the blueprint, Boggs sorting out how to build the system.
The pair went on to build a number of Ethernet interfaces for Xerox and later published Ethernet: Distributed Packet Switching for Local Computer Networks at the Communication of the ACM. This was the seminal paper on Ethernet.
Bogg later left PARC and formed LAN Media Corporation, Metcalfe left in 1979 and founded 3Com.
Tony Heywood ©
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