The Voices of Ethernet

The Voices of Ethernet

The Ethernet Alliance is preserving Ethernet’s historical records through a collection of spoken records with the real people behind Ethernet’s story, sharing engaging personal accounts of pivotal events and major milestones that may have otherwise been forgotten or remain widely unknown.


August 12, 2022 30 min
Ethernet Networking and LAN/MAN Standards Expert

“Ethernet has been created by lots of contributors who all probably saw what was happening from a different point of view,” David Cunningham said. “We’ve all worked on different parts of the standard at different times.”

Cunningham’s personal point of view is unusually comprehensive. In more than two decades of work in local and metro area network standardization, Cunningham contri...
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An important aspect of Ethernet’s beginnings is that it was not simply a clever idea—it also was a necessary one.

Computer designer, architect and researcher, Gordon Bell had been with Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) in the early 1960s where his achievements included major contributions to architecting the company’s Programmed Data Processor (PDP) line of minicomputers. He left in 1966 to join the computer-science faculty at C...
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Waves are still rippling from the splashes that Rich Seifert made over the course of his decades in creation and evolution of Ethernet. In 1979 and ’80, while he was with Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), Seifert worked alongside engineers from Intel and Xerox to cowrite, “The Ethernet, A Local Area Network. Data Link Layer and Physical Layer Specifications,” the seminal document which greatly informed the initial IEEE Project 8...
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Robert Garner has 41 years of experience in management, architecture and design engineering across product development and research at Xerox Systems Development, Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), Sun Microsystems, Brocade Communications and IBM Research. From that remarkable career, he has preserved a slew of stories and an impressive collection of relics, and he’s thrilled to share them.

Garner was working toward his mast...
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Geoff Thompson has been part of the IEEE 803.3 Ethernet Working Group since 1983, and he chaired it from 1993 until 2002, a period in which standards innovations such as 1000-BASE-T and Gigabit Ethernet “effectively cemented Ethernet as the top dog in wired LANs (local area networks).”

But his connection with the technology and its inventors goes even further back. “I was a very, very early customer of Ethernet.” At Xerox Research...
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Robert M. Grow calls himself “a latecomer to Ethernet,” but, in fact, he has been involved in the technology for its entire existence. He was immersed in the design of the first local area networks (LANs) in the 1970s, and, even during his university years, Grow “got involved looking at some of the more advanced and more futuristic looks at technology and things that would be happening,” he tells Ethernet Alliance chair Peter Jones...
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In 1980, when IEEE started Project 802 to standardize local area networks (LANs), Gary Robinson was part of the “DIX-group” which submitted the “Blue Book” carrier-sense multiple access with collision detection (CSMA/CD) specification as a candidate. Robinson ended up being one of the catalysts in developing the flexibility of the IEEE 802 standards family and working group which has proven to be key to its long-term viability.
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On the brink of what he calls his “sixth career, whatever that’s going to turn out to be,” Robert M. Metcalfe shares some of the earliest stories from the technology’s history. Regarded as the “Father of Ethernet,” Metcalfe is credited with co-inventing Ethernet while working at Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) in 1973.
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