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Quick Reference Guide to the Ethernet System

1.3 Development of Ethernet Standards

Ethernet was invented at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center in the 1970s by Dr. Robert M. Metcalfe. It was designed to support research on the "office of the future," which included one of the world's first personal workstations, the Xerox Alto. The first Ethernet system ran at approximately 3-Mbps and was known as "experimental Ethernet."

Formal specifications for Ethernet were published in 1980 by a multi-vendor consortium that created the DEC-Intel-Xerox (DIX) standard. This effort turned the experimental Ethernet into an open, production-quality Ethernet system that operates at 10-Mbps. Ethernet technology was then adopted for standardization by the LAN standards committee of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE 802).

The IEEE standard was first published in 1985, with the formal title of "IEEE 802.3 Carrier Sense Multiple Access with Collision Detection (CSMA/CD) Access Method and Physical Layer Specifications." The IEEE standard has since been adopted by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), which makes it a worldwide networking standard.

The IEEE standard provides an "Ethernet like" system based on the original DIX Ethernet technology. All Ethernet equipment since 1985 is built according to the IEEE 802.3 standard, which is pronounced "eight oh two dot three." To be absolutely accurate, then, we should refer to Ethernet equipment as "IEEE 802.3 CSMA/CD" technology. However, most of the world still knows it by the original name of Ethernet, and that's what we'll call it as well.

The 802.3 standard is periodically updated to include new technology. Since 1985 the standard has grown to include new media systems for 10-Mbps Ethernet (e.g. twisted-pair media), as well as the latest set of specifications for 100-Mbps Fast Ethernet.

Quick Reference Guide to the Ethernet System - 04 SEP 95
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