Robert Metcalfe, Founder of the Ethernet
Last week, IEEI hosted the NAE Speaker Series featuring Robert Metcalfe, Founder of the Ethernet. This was a hybrid event with both in-person and virtual options. Around 60 participants (both virtual and in-person) attended this event.
The topic for the talk was CONNECTIVITY: The Internet, invention of Ethernet, founding of 3Com Corporation, and Metcalfe’s Law (V~N^2).
By the age of 52, the Internet was suddenly accessible to two thirds of the entire human population. Humans have greatly progressed in our quest for freedom and prosperity as a result. The Internet was ready when COVID hit. (thanks to Zoom). However, we are still overwhelmed by the amount of connectivity the Internet offers. Metcalfe emphasized on the fact that it was time to treat CONNECTIVITY as an entity with its own science, engineering, dimensions, disruptions, and pathologies. He also recounted several stories about the development of the Internet, the invention of Ethernet, the founding of 3Com Corporation, and his law (V~N^2).
Dr. Robert M. Metcalfe has for the last 11 years been Professor of Innovation in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin. This month he retired from UT Austin to start his sixth career. Metcalfe was an Internet pioneer beginning 1970 at MIT, Harvard, Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (Parc), Stanford, and 3Com.
He invented Ethernet at Xerox Parc on May 22, 1973. Today Ethernet is the Internet’s standard plumbing. It now adds, especially if we count Wireless Ethernet (Wi-Fi), billions of standard Internet ports per year. He founded Silicon Valley Internet startup 3Com Corporation in 1979, went public in 1984, did $5.7B in revenue in 1999, joined HP in 2010. Metcalfe has won the Bell, Hopper, Japan C&C, Marconi, McCluskey, Shannon and Stibitz Prizes. He is a Life Trustee Emeritus of MIT and a member of the National Academy of Engineering. Metcalfe received the IEEE Medal of Honor in 1996 and the National Medal of Technology in 2005, both for his leadership in the invention, standardization and commercialization of Ethernet.