Ethernet History

In 1973 Xerox Corporation’s Palo Alto Research Center began the development of a bus topology LAN. Later, in 1976, carrier sensing was added, and Xerox built a 2.94 Mbps network to connect over 100 personal workstations on a 1 km cable. This network was called the Ethernet, named after the ether, the single coaxial cable used to connect the machines. Xerox Ethernet was so successful, that in 1980 Digital Equipment Corporation, Intel Corporation and Xerox had released a de facto standard for a 10 Mbps Ethernet, informally called DIX Ethernet (from the initials of the 3 companies). This Ethernet Specification defined Ethernet II and was used as a basis for the IEEE 802.3 specification.

Strictly, "Ethernet" refers to a product which predates the IEEE 802.3 Standard. However nowadays any 802.3 compliant network is referred to as an Ethernet. Over the years Ethernet has continued to evolve, with 10Base5 using thick coaxial cable approved in 1986, 10Base2 using cheaper thin coaxial cable approved in 1986. Twisted pair wiring was used in 10BaseT, approved in 1991 and fibre wire in 10BaseF, approved in 1994-95. In 1995 100Mbps Ethernet was released, increasing the speed of Ethernet, which has since been further increased with the release of Gigabit Ethernet in 1998-99. In the future, Ethernet will continue to increase in speed, with 10 Gigabit Ethernet recently ratified, with 40 Gigabit arriving soon and 100 Gigabit Ethernet technology demonstrations currently occurring.