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Father of Ethernet
Robert Melancton Metcalfe

In my slideshow below, you will see componments used in Ethernet connections and even a sketch by Robert Metcalfe.

RM Slideshow
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        April 7th this year, Robert Melancton Metcalfe turned sixty-four years old and is known today as a renowned, inspirational speaker that travels around the country. He was born in Brooklyn, New York on April 7, 1947. He told the story of how, while still a grade-schooler on Long Island, he fixed on the idea of going to MIT to study electrical engineering. "In fourth grade, I had to write a book report, and I hadn't read a book, and it was the night before." "Typical of me, I've always been that way. So I went down to my father's shop in the basement, on South Thompson Drive, in Bay Shore, New York. "In the basement, my father, an aerospace technician, had a shelf of books. There was one book that caught my eye. It was black. It was an electrical engineering textbook written by an MIT professor or two. This was a book that I could not possibly understand. And as I recall it, I wrote one of those fake book reports." "This book had its high points and its low points, but on average I think it was an average book. It was one of those lame things, when you don't have anything to say, and you just write stuff like that. "But, I must've known that the book report wasn't going to fly, so I added a gratuitous sentence at the end of the book report calculated to make the teacher like the book report. And the sentence, in my recollection, said" "And I plan to go to MIT and get a degree in electrical engineering. I must've thought that my teacher would like that I'd been inspired by this book and give me a good grade."

        A schoolboy effort to please or not, Metcalfe did wind up at MIT after graduating second in his class from Bay Shore High School, and he did get a bachelor's in electrical engineering, while also getting an extra degree in industrial management.

        Robert Metcalfe is known as the Father of Ethernet and the founder of 3COM. He is in high demand as an author and inventor for speaking events all over the world.

        While pursuing a doctorate in computer science, Metcalfe took a job with MIT's Project MAC after Harvard refused to let him be responsible for connecting the school to the brand-new ARPAnet. At MIT's Project MAC, Metcalfe was responsible for building some of the hardware that would link MIT's minicomputers with the ARPAnet. Metcalfe was so enamored with ARPAnet; he made it the topic of his doctoral dissertation. However, Harvard flunked him. His inspiration for a new dissertation came while working at Xerox PARC where he read a paper about the ALOHA network at the University of Hawaii. He identified and fixed some of the bugs in the AlohaNet model and made his analysis part of a revised thesis, which finally earned him his Harvard PhD in 1973.

        Metcalfe was working at Xerox PARC in 1973 when he and David Boggs invented Ethernet, a standard for connecting computers over short distances. Metcalfe identifies the day Ethernet was born as May 22, 1973, the day he circulated a memo titled "Alto Ethernet" which contained a rough schematic of how it would work. (see a copy of this rough schematic in the slideshow above) "That is the first time Ethernet appears as a word, as does the idea of using coax as ether, where the participating stations, like in AlohaNet or ARPAnet, would inject their packets of data, they'd travel around at megabits per second, there would be collisions, and retransmissions, and back-off," Metcalfe explained. Boggs identifies another date as the birth of Ethernet: November 11, 1973, the first day the system actually functioned.

        In 1979, Metcalfe departed PARC and founded 3COM, a manufacturer of computer networking equipment. In 1980 he received the Association for Computing Machinery Grace Murray Hopper Award for his contributions to the development of local networks, specifically Ethernet. In 1990 Metcalfe lost a boardroom skirmish at 3COM in the contest to succeed Bill Krause as CEO. The board of directors chose Eric Benhamou to run the networking company Metcalfe had founded in his Palo Alto apartment in 1979. Metcalfe left 3COM and began a 10 year stint as a publisher and pundit, writing an Internet column for InfoWorld. He became a venture capitalist in 2001 and is now a General Partner at Polaris Venture Partners. He is a director of Pop! Tech, an executive technology conference he cofounded in 1997. He has recently been working with Polaris-funded startup Ember to work on a new type of energy grid, Internet.

        polarisventures.com. 3 June 20004. 12 November 2010

        ideafinder.com/history/inventors/metcalfe.htm. 29 March 2007. 12 November 2010

        Kirsner, Scott. www.wired.com/wired/archive/6.11/metcalfe.html. 1 April 2009. 12 November 2010

        Robert-Metcalfe-9542201. 2010. 12 November 2010

        wikipedia.org/wiki/Polaris_Venture_Partners. 21 October 2010. 12 November 2010

        wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Metcalfe#Biography. 15 October 2010. 12 November 2010

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