Creator of the first Ethernet, Robert Metcalfe, wins Turing Award

Posted on Saturday, Apr 1, 2023 by Ned Bellavance

Featured in this episode of Chaos Lever

Believe it or not boys and girls, there was a time before the internet and wireless, when computer networks were connected by thick cables and limited to a single room or building. Bandwidth was measured in megabits (not bytes) and you couldn’t even Rick Roll a person, because Rick Astley was still in diapers.

What’s amazing about the Ethernet developed by Metcalfe and his colleague David Boggs, is the fact that it is still used today as a layer 2 transport for basically the entire world. Whether it’s Cat5, multi-mode fiber, or wireless radio signals, they all use Ethernet for their transport.

Starting at a miniscule 2.94 megabits per second, it’s now possible to run Ethernet at multi-terabit speeds. There are an estimated 7B ethernet ports in the world as of 2022, and all the little packets steering around our crazy globe owe Metcalfe and friends a debt of gratitude.

Congratulations to Robert on winning the Turing award and helping make the internet a reality. Well, maybe just the first one. Jury’s still out on the latter.