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 Carnegie Mellon University and then, in 1972, returned to DEC as vice president of engineering. In this role, Bell oversaw development of DEC’s historic Virtual Address eXtension (VAX) computers.
The VAX line would prove hugely popular in the scientific research communities and influential in bringing about the computer age across varied industries which had sought a less expensive and more flexible and nimble computing capability than previously available. But a key problem had to be solved: how to connect the devices.