Milestone-Proposal talk:Ethernet Local Area Network (LAN), 1973-1985
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From Leonard J. Shustek, Founding Chairman Emeritus of the Board of Trustees of the Computer History Museum:
This proposal, to the best of my knowledge and experience, accurately and fairly depicts the history, technology, and significant impact of Ethernet. The invention of Ethernet clearly deserves to be celebrated as an IEEE Milestone.
(1) From 1978 to 1986, I was co-founder and VP of Engineering at Nestar Systems Inc., an early manufacturer of multiple generations of local area networked systems for personal computers. I was responsible for all aspects of hardware and software engineering, including personally implementing the early products. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nestar_Systems
(2) From 1986 to 1995, I was co-founder and VP of Engineering at Network General Corporation, a manufacturer of network diagnostic equipment including the original "Sniffer" LAN protocol analyzer. I was again responsible for all aspects of hardware and software engineering, including personally doing the hardware and software for the first Sniffers. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sniffer_(protocol_analyzer
I am very happy to support the proposal to award an IEEE Milestone for Ethernet, in the same year as its 50th anniversary which we are celebrating at the Computer History Museum (CHM). Its importance is deeply interwined with wireless networking (ALOHAnet at the start, Wi-Fi more recently), the connected personal computer (Alto, and many successors), internetting (part of the PUP protocol which gave PARC its own internet, influences on TCP), and of course – local networking. Ethernet was an early standard for this, and managed to beat out a number of competitors from major companies including IBM. Today, nearly everything we do with computers involves Ethernet; along with TCP/IP and the World Wide Web it defines our online world.
I am a Corresponding Member of the IEEE History Committee, and I helped develop the Milestone for Doug Engelbart's Mother of All Demos.
I started the CHM's Internet History Program as its Founding Curator in 2008. I pioneered Web history as a topic starting in 1995, with crucial help from the Web's main inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee and other pioneers. I co-founded the first organizations in the field and codeveloped the first major related conference track. In 2005 I co-founded the Web History Center whose 12 members include Stanford, the Internet Archive, SRI, and SLAC.
At the CHM I curated the first major exhibits on net, Web, and mobile history as part of the Museum’s permanent exhibition “Revolution,” and developed nine other galleries or exhibits on topics from autonomous vehicles, to texting, to Wikipedia. The Internet History Program explores our connected world through publications and events, and builds on the Museum's leading collection of networking history materials. We've done programs for the 40th anniversary of Ethernet at the museum as well as a number of other networking anniversaries. I have taught on related topics at the University of California, Santa Cruz. I was a software and biomedical consultant for over a decade in Silicon Valley and near Geneva, Switzerland.
Since Bob Metcalfe cannot be considered an independent Expert Reviewer, he was not asked to fill this role. He was co-inventor of Ethernet, and has been integral to its monumental success. He communicated his full support for this Milestone, and emphasized these points about its history:
From: Bob Metcalfe
Subject: Re: Ethernet IEEE milestone application: request for your feedback/support
Date: March 19, 2023 at 10:36:43 PM PDT
I would say Ethernet was inspired by ARPANET and ALOHANET.
The three key technologies of the PARC Ethernet were Jerold taps, Manchester encoding, and ALOHAnet randomized retransmissions.
Ethernet brought packets to the desktop, abundant bandwidth, and standardization.
Ethernet helped transition the ARPANET from the networking of dumb terminals on time-shared minicomputers to the networking of personal computers.
I fully support this milestone. The language seems fine and the support from experts is present. I am a little concerned that the public will not know or understand what Ethernet is. There is no extra space in the wording, but something explaining Ethernet would have been helpful. Ethernet is a family of wired computer networking technologies commonly used in local area networks (LAN), metropolitan area networks (MAN) and wide area networks (WAN). Ethernet is widely used in homes and industry, and interworks well with wireless Wi-Fi technologies. I note that the IEEE Standards relate to the standardization of Ethernet, not necessarily its existence, even though that standardization was critical for the widespread adoption. Dave Bart
Interesting comment. However, I believe that the term "Local Area Network" in the title, and the discussion of data rates, standards, and also both wired and wireless media, together show that Ethernet is a communications scheme.