Charles Spurgeon's Ethernet (IEEE 802.3) Site


Ethernet Resources

Why is it called Ethernet?

The following excerpt from Ethernet: The Definitive Guide (O'Reilly and Associates, 2000), explains where the name "Ethernet" comes from:

"Invention of Ethernet

In late 1972, Metcalfe and his Xerox PARC colleagues developed the first experimental Ethernet system to interconnect the Xerox Alto, a personal workstation with a graphical user interface. The experimental Ethernet was used to link Altos to one another, and to servers and laser printers. The signal clock for the experimental Ethernet interface was derived from the Alto's system clock, which resulted in a data transmission rate on the experimental Ethernet of 2.94 Mbps.

Metcalfe's first experimental network was called the Alto Aloha Network. In 1973 Metcalfe changed the name to "Ethernet," to make it clear that the system could support any computer--not just Altos--and to point out that his new network mechanisms had evolved well beyond the Aloha system. He chose to base the name on the word "ether" as a way of describing an essential feature of the system: the physical medium (i.e., a cable) carries bits to all stations, much the same way that the old "luminiferous ether" was once thought to propagate electromagnetic waves through space. Thus, Ethernet was born.”


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