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News - The LAN turns 30, but will it reach 40?

Jan 31, 2008 The LAN turns 30, but will it reach 40?

ARCnet idea came to an engineer while he was eating a meatball sandwich

January 31, 2008 (Computerworld)
LAN technology recently passed a milestone -- it's been around for 30 years, some of them tumultuous. But while the LAN seems ubiquitous now, there are those who think its future may be more troubled than its past.

"Comparing the present environment to our original vision, the temptation is huge to say that we foresaw all this," commented Bob Metcalfe, one of the inventors of Ethernet (by far the best-selling LAN protocol) and now a general partner at Polaris Venture Partners in Waltham, Mass. "But I will resist and say, 'duh, wow, look what happened.'"

Ethernet, he explained, was developed as part of a project at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) in the early 1970s that pioneered the idea of desktop personal computers connected to one another and to laser printers. The original network speed was just under 3Mbit/sec., gated by the processor of the Alto computer that PARC developed for the project, he added.

Metcalfe recalled that about 100 nodes were operational by the time a groundbreaking technical paper that he co-wrote describing Ethernet appeared in the July 1976 "Communications of the ACM."

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