Development History of Ethernet

A network consists of multiple computers connected using some type of interface, each having one or more interface devices. The primitive computers were the self contained devices in which the data was confined in it. The only way to transfer the data from one machine to another was to take the data in a storage device and send it across the machine. So, this necessity led to invention and development in the networks. In a computer network, the autonomous computers are interconnected and are able to communicate with each other. Networks enable the sharing of data among groups of computers and their users.

  • Computer Networking began at the same time as computers themselves. In 1940 George Stibitz and Samuel Williams, at AT&T‘s Bell Laboratories, developed their Complex Number Generator, one of the earliest digital computers and then, they made it possible for users to operate the computer remotely from teletype machines on three different floors in their Manhattan building. They also developed a system to allow users to communicate with the machine even more remotely, via telex machines. This was the beginning of the Networking era.
  • In 1964, Drs John Kemeny and Tom Kurtz of Dartmouth College in New Hampshire developed not only the simplified BASIC programming language (Beginners All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) but also a system called time sharing, which allowed many students to use a single computer at what seemed like the same time, from a large number of teleprinter terminals spread around the campus and elsewhere.
  • However, networking is said to have started in 1976, when researchers Dr Robert Metcalfe and Dr David Boggs of the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) presented details of a Local Computer Networking System which allowed data to be transferred between a number of computers and printers, at 2.94Mb/s (megabits per second), which was considered to be a very high speed. They dubbed the new networking system Ethernet.
  • Xerox Corporation was granted a patent for Ethernet in 1977. Then in 1979 Xerox teamed up with Digital Equipment Corporation and Intel to define the first official standard specification for Ethernet. This Ethernet Version 1.0 was capable of transferring data at 10Mb/s over fairly thick (10mm diameter) 50W coaxial cable. It was called Thick Ethernet‘ or ’10Base5’. The meaning of 10Base5 is that it allowed a 10Mb/s data rate, it used baseband transmission rather than a modulated high-frequency carrier, and would give reliable data communication over cable lengths up to 500 meters.
  • A few years later, the 802.3 working group of the IEEE (Institution of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) released its first industry standard for Ethernet, giving it the name IEEE 802.3 Carrier Sense Multiple Access with Collision Detection (CSMA/CD) Access Method and Physical Layer Specifications. This was the refined version of DEC-Intel-Xerox Thick Ethernet.
  • In 1985, the IEEE working group came out with ‘thin’ Ethernet, also known as ‘cheapernet’ or 10Base2′. This specified the use of thinner (5mm diameter) 50W coaxial cable, which still allowed 10 Mb/s baseband transmissions as before, but with a maximum cable length of 185 meters.
  • It was followed by IEEE 802.3i or 10BaseT’Ethernet standard, released in 1990. 10BaseT opened the door to much cheaper networking because it allowed 10 Mb/s transmissions over the low cost 100W unshielded twisted-pair or ‘UTP’ Category 3 cabling which had by then become widely used for telephone wiring in buildings.
  • In 1995 IEEE working group released the 802.3u standard. This became known as ‘100BaseT’ or ‘Fast Ethernet, which had 10 times the speed of 10BaseT.
  • In 1997 came IEEE 802.3x, which defined full duplex or simultaneous two-way data communication over either 10BaseT or 100BaseT. Before this development, Ethernet allowed only half duplex or ‘one way at a time’ communication .
  • In 1998 and 1999, the IEEE working group released four different implementations of the 802.3z ‘Gigabit Ethernet’ standard, achieving 1Gb/s transmission or another 10-times increase in data transfer rates.
  • Please note that out of above, 10BaseT and 100BaseT, turn out to be very suitable and cost-effective for both home and small office networking and are widely used today.