On Ethernet’s 40th anniversary, inventors talk about its creation, future innovations


MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.On May 22, the day that Ethernet celebrated its 40th birthday, some of its inventors joined the Ethernet Innovation Summit, held in the Computer History Museum to talk about how it was created. “You don’t fail on purpose. It is a consequence. But you need to fail fast,” said Bob Metcalfe, co-inventor of the Ethernet.

As for the future, Metcalfe is betting on innovations coming from video, such as the substitution of communication for transportation in the energy segment; distance healthcare; and massive open online courses–MOOCs in the education sector. In mobile technology, Metcalfe pointed to self-driving electric cars, personal health monitoring and once again, MOOCs.

Check out Metcalfe’s speech and a talk from futurist Paul Saffo at the Ethernet’s 40th birthday celebration:

Funding, standards and the Ethernet’s evolution
During the conference, several speakers spoke about different aspects of the Ethernet’s evolution over the last 40 years. A lot has changed. “Funding issues have become more complex. Now it is about applying technology; it’s a new era,” said Judy Estrin, JLabs CEO. “If you don’t fund crazy ideas you are not funding right.”

Geoff Thompson, emeritus member at IEEE, said that now standards come out closer to when products are launched. “One of the biggest strength of the Internet is the IP aspect of it,” he said.

Radia Perlman, Intel executive vice president of platform systems, said the single worst decision was made in 1982: “The IP address was too short,” she said.

Ethernet in the enterprise
Where is the Internet today, and what is its impact on enterprises? These topics were discussed by a panel of vendor executives led by Rohit Mehra, IDC’s vice president of network infrastructure. “The Internet is a core technology for the enterprise networking market,” Mehra  said.

HP’s Mike Banic commented on network as a service, noting the importance of defining business models. “Enterprises don’t have many people responsible for the network anymore,” he said. “Our delivery strategy for consumers includes focusing on open standards, scale and automatization.”

Juniper Networks’ Steve Collen said that the future is about being open. “Companies should work with vendors that offer open platforms to integrate,” he said.

Carrier Ethernet was also a topic of the Ethernet’s 40th anniversary event. Tam Dell’Oro, founder and president of Dell’Oro Group, explained how the carrier Ethernet has evolved.

NetEvents provided travel costs to California.


About Author

Editor, Americas
Roberta Prescott is responsible for Latin America reporting news and analysis, interviewing key stakeholders. Roberta has worked as an IT and telecommunication journalist since March 2005, when she started as a reporter with InformationWeek Brasil magazine and its website IT Web. In July 2006, Prescott was promoted to be the editor-in-chief, and, beyond the magazine and website, was in charge for all ICT products, such as IT events and CIO awards. In mid-2010, she was promoted to the position of executive editor, with responsibility for all the editorial products and content of IT Mídia. Prescott has worked as a journalist since 1998 and has three journalism prizes. In 2009, she won, along with InformationWeek Brasil team, the press prize 11th Prêmio Imprensa Embratel. In 2008, she won the 7th Unisys Journalism Prize and in 2006 was the editor-in-chief when InformationWeek Brasil won the 20th media award Prêmio Veículos de Comunicação. She graduated in Journalism by the Pontifícia Universidade Católica de Campinas, has done specialization in journalism at the Universidad de Navarra (Spain, 2003) and Master in Journalism at IICS – Universidad de Navarra (Brazil, 2010) and MBA – Executive Education at the Getulio Vargas Foundation.