Ethernet Looks at 40
Last week I attended the 40th anniversary celebration of Ethernet at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California. In this article, I offer a few highlights and several photos from this memorable event.
The museum was a perfect setting for recognizing the impact that Ethernet has had on so many of us in the computer and communications industries.
Figure 1. Computer History Museum
But what made this event even more special, was the presence of numerous luminaries from Ethernet’s past and present. Of course, Bob Metcalfe, the celebrated inventor of Ethernet and founder of 3Com, was on hand. But also on hand were dozens of others who participated in the innovation of Ethernet and the development of modern communications technologies.
Here’s a partial list of the luminaries who were on hand:
- Bob Metcalfe – co-inventor of Ethernet, co-ounder of 3Com, venture capitalist and now Professor of Electrical Engineering at University of Texas, Austin
- Nan Chan – founding president of MEF and co-Founder of CENX
- Dan Pitt – IBM Token Ring inventor and current Executive Director of the ONF
- Norm Abramson – inventor of ALOHAnet wireless data communications system
- Dave Boggs – less public co-inventor of Ethernet
- Bill Hawe – pioneer in fast Ethernet (100Mbps) and eventual CTO of Nortel Networks
- Radia Perlman - most famous for her invention of the spanning-tree protocol (STP)
Always entertaining, Bob Metcalfe, spent much of his time in his keynote address discussing the future of communications and its relationship to healthcare management and massive open online courses (MOOCs). You can view the entire presentation here. When it came to taking credit for the invention of Ethernet, Metcalfe was a clear as mud: "depending on the definitions of the words I, Invented and Ethernet; it can be said that I invented Ethernet," says Metcalfe.
Figure 2. Bob Metcalfe during his Keynote at Ethernet Innovation Summit
Figure 3. Bob Metcalfe (left) and Paul Saffo (right) during the Keynote Interview at Ethernet Innovation Summit
Another highlight for me was being part of a distinguished panel focused on Carrier Ethernet. The panel was chaired by Tam Dell’Oro – founder and president of Dell’Oro Group. I was joined by Howard Charney, Senior Vice President, Office of the President, Cisco; Said Ouissal, Vice President, Juniper ; James Walker, Vice President, Managed Network Services, TATA Communications ; Ms Yali Z Liu, Executive Director, Product Technology, Verizon.
Figure 4. Carrier Ethernet Panel at Ethernet Innovation Summit
You can view the Carrier Ethernet panel session here.
I was fortunate enough to spend some time with Mr. Metcalfe and Dave Boggs, one of Bob’s co-inventors of Ethernet at the Xerox PARC labs. See the photo of the three of us below.
Figure 5. L-R: Mark Durrett, Dave Boggs and Bob Metcalfe at Ethernet Innovation Summit
It was a meaningful celebration of an important technology in the perfect setting.
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