Robert Metcalfe – Inventor of the Ethernet
Computer networking, sending large packet files to each other, and the use of today’s digital telephone equipment would not be capable without the great invention of the Ethernet. Can you imagine owning a business or working for a corporation that still runs off dial-up speeds? We wouldn’t get nearly as much work completed in a day as we do today.
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Robert M. Metcalfe was born in 1946 in Brooklyn, New York. Even as a child he was simply fascinated with technology and all sorts of gadgets and by the time he was only 10 he knew he wanted to be an electrical engineer. At that time, he also knew he wanted to begin the work needed to attend Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He graduated in 1969 from MIT with two Bachelor of Science degrees. One was in electrical engineering and the other was in business management. He then attended Harvard and obtained his Master’s degree in applied mathematics in 1970. Then in 1973 he earned his PH.D. in computer science, also from Harvard.
While Metcalfe was at Harvard he completed his doctoral dissertation. He based his writings on research he had previously done pertaining to packet switching in ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network), and Aloha computer networks. He had completed this research while working on MIT’s project MAC.
In 1972, Robert Metcalfe started working at Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) and while there he met D.R. Boggs. Together they invented what we now know as the Ethernet, local area networking technology (LAN) which links computers together and turns them into communication tools. Eventually, this technological development would be used to link over 50 million PCs around the world. The Ethernet allowed computers to be able to send whole packets of information between each other while avoiding collisions with each other.
Metcalfe moved to the Xerox Systems Development Division in 1976. A series of developments ended up becoming the Xerox Star workstation. The Star was the very first computer which included a bit-map screen, word processing, Ethernet, mouse and the software to be able to include both graphics and text in one document.
Metcalfe left Xerox in 1979 and founded 3Com Corporation. His intent was to promote the Ethernet and PC LANs as the industry standard. He could not persuadeIBMto use Ethernet as a standard but he was able to gather together Digital Equipment Corporation, Xerox, and Intel to make Ethernet theLANthat was most widely used.
Business Management 101
While Metcalfe was at 3Com he served as President, CEO, Division General Manager and Chairman of the Board. He stated that he felt his greatest accomplishment was as head of sales and marketing he was able to increase sales from $0 to $1M per month. Because of his sharp business sense, the company he had named 3Com for computer, compatibility and communication – had become a Fortune 500 corporation. Upon his retirement from 3Com in 1990, he spent a year as a visiting fellow at the Wolfs on College, Oxford University in England. He then began to work in the field of journalism and contributed writings for use in Communications Week, Network Computing, Technology Review and Computerworld. He became the vice-president of technology for the International Data Group, which was the parent company for InfoWorld Magazine.
What is he doing now?
Metcalfe continues to be actively involved in technological advancements. He participates through both writing and mentoring of others who are involved in various computer and computer related technological fields. He said in a recent interview: “I’m an engineer and I think everyone should be engineer. I have a feeling that there are probably other life choices that are as valid as that. But other people should advocate those. I will advocate science and technology, particularly engineering, engineering being slightly different than being a scientist in the grand scheme of things. So I recommend it. It’s a great life. Solving problems. Developing mastery over subjects.”
This entry was posted by Eugene Aronsky & Moshe Zchut on January 30, 2013 at 10:30 am, and is filed under inventions, inventors, modern inventors, tech history, technology icons. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0.You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
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