The Voices of Ethernet: Preserving the Past as we Look to the Future, Part 2
They say nothing lasts forever, and that’s especially true in the tech world. Yet, Ethernet is certainly proving that it has exceptional staying power, having just marked the major milestone of 50 years of success in 2023.
The Ethernet Alliance is dedicated to preserving Ethernet’s past through our Voices of Ethernet oral history archive. Though you may be familiar with the technology, it’s equally important to know the names and faces behind its remarkable journey to becoming the world’s most ubiquitous networking technology.
From the flexibility of the Ethernet cables we use daily, to the leadership of the companies who gave Ethernet its “voice”, to the engineers and developers who changed the way the world uses this game-changing technology, these compelling tales will last for more than a lifetime. Moderated by Ethernet Alliance Chairman, Peter Jones of Cisco, each oral history offers a unique perspective from personal experiences of key figures behind Ethernet’s story.
Let’s continue our journey through the Voices of Ethernet archive. In this sequel to our Part 1 recap with Robert (Bob) Metcalfe, Dr. Rouzbeh Yassini-Fard, and Gordon Bell, this sequel blog features highlights from interviews with Ethernet luminaries Gary Robinson, Geoff Thompson, Robert Garner, and Rich Seifert.
Gary Robinson: Setting a Standard of Excellence
One of Ethernet’s hallmarks is its remarkable predictability. Its uncanny reliability didn’t happen by accident; rather, it resulted from the forethought of innovators like Gary Robinson.
An early IEEE 802™ standards pioneer, Gary became a catalyst for the development of Ethernet’s signature flexibility, which continues to contribute to its long-term viability. As he notes in his Voices of Ethernet interview, “Ethernet standards achieved a great deal. Standards are the thing that allowed the market and individuals to be able to use Ethernet at a very competitive cost, and the fact is you plug it in and it works.” Watch the full interview here.
Geoff Thompson: Collaborating to Advance Ethernet
Geoff Thompson chaired the IEEE 802.3 Ethernet Working Group from 1993 until 2002, a time that cemented Ethernet as best in wired LANs. In his interview Geoff shares, “Things that made Ethernet a success was that it was truly a peer network. It gave us the flexibility that followed the demands of the market without fundamentally changing it. It had an organization in 802.3 that was well suited to doing that.” Watch the full interview here.
Robert Garner: Enabling Ethernet’s Evolution
Robert Garner crossed paths with Bob Metcalfe at an on-campus interview at Stanford University in 1977, his launching point into the world of Ethernet. Garner marvels at the impact of the work he has gotten to be a part of and shares, “It’s incalculable. Every computer-to-human, human-to-computer, and computer-to-computer communication goes over Ethernet at some point.” Watch the full interview here.
Rich Seifert: Shaping Ethernet’s story
Rich Seifert is an engineer and developer of Ethernet technology and is proud of the technology’s story and his role in its twists and turns. “I’m glad I chose to work on the Ethernet as opposed to something else,” he shared in the interview. “You never know what project you’re going to work on that’s going to change your life and possibly change the world.” Watch the full interview here.
Preserving the Past as We Work on the Future
The Ethernet Alliance is committed to collecting the stories behind Ethernet. Remembering and learning about its storied past will help us all stay better informed as we work on shaping its future. Explore the Voices of Ethernet or nominate other individuals whose recollections should be captured for this important oral history archive.