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Ethernet has become, perhaps, the most popular media access method to the desktop computer and is used in both small and large network environments. Ethernet is a non-proprietary industry standard that has found wide acceptance by network hardware manufacturers. Problems related to using Ethernet hardware products from different hardware manufacturers in a single network have become nearly nonexistent.

Ethernet Origins

In the late 1960s, the University of Hawaii developed a WAN called ALOHA. The university occupied a wide area and sought to connect computers that were spread throughout their campus. A key feature of the university's network was its use of CSMA/CD as the access method.

This early network was the foundation for today's Ethernet architecture. In 1972, Robert Metcalfe and David Boggs invented a cabling and signalling scheme at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Centre (PARC) and in 1975 introduced the first Ethernet product. Xerox Ethernet was so successful that Xerox, Intel Corporation, and Digital Equipment Corporation drew up a standard for a 10 Mbps Ethernet. Today, the 10 Mbps Ethernet is one of several specifications describing methods for computers and data systems to connect and share cabling.

In the 1980s the IEEE published Project 802. This project generated standards for design and compatibility for hardware components that operated within the OSI physical and data link layers. The standard that applies to Ethernet is the IEEE 802.3 specification.

Next: Ethernet Features