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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 contributed to some of the most important milestones in and even beyond Ethernet’s evolution.

His entry into the technology space was “probably a little more accidental,” he said. Cunningham is a laser expert who did his PhD work in spectroscopy. In 1987 he joined Hewlett-Packard at its laboratories in the United Kingdom and was tasked with helping develop a physical layer for a Gigabit-speed network using single-mode optical fiber.

“For my success, I got assigned to work on the FDDI (Fiber Distributed Data Interface) standard,” he said. “… I didn’t really know about multimode fiber, and I certainly didn’t know about transmission over copper twisted pair.”

This led to Cunningham’s engagement with the IEEE 802.3 Ethernet Working Group. He remembers having to be kept “calm in the technical meetings because they could be very frustrating. I was young and argumentative, and sometimes I thought that the solutions weren’t very good.”

Enjoy this wonderful conversation with Cunningham and Ethernet Alliance Chair Peter Jones.

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