You still use that technology to access the internet even if you aren’t directly inserting an Ethernet wire into the wall. You may thank Bob Metcalfe and the late David Boggs for it. The duo collaborated at Xerox’s famed Palo Alto Research Center (better known as Xerox PARC) to create Ethernet and lay the groundwork for a networking revolution. Metcalfe earned the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) A.M. Turing Award, dubbed the “Nobel Prize of computers,” yesterday.
The award is now worth $1 million thanks to Google sponsorship, and it is yet another milestone in Metcalfe’s illustrious career. After leaving Xerox PARC, he created 3com, a networking equipment firm that popularised Ethernet. “It is risky to receive an award for designing Ethernet, which will be 50 years old on May 22, 2023,” Metcalfe told the University of Texas, where he is now a professor emeritus. “Hundreds of individuals have claimed inventorship of Ethernet during its 50-year history.” “Please join me in thanking these people.”
Despite its reputation as a cable technology, Metcalfe told the New York Times that he initially intended it to be more like Wi-Fi. “We wanted it to be wifi,” he said. “But, we couldn’t have zero cables.” It would have been too sluggish and costly.”