6 Facts about Ethernet

  • Ethernet came about because of research that Robert Metcalfe conducted as part of his doctoral dissertation that involved ALOHAnet, which the University of Hawaii developed for radio communications.
  • The name for Ethernet comes from luminiferous ether, a substance that people in the 19th century believed transmitted electromagnetic waves, a theory that science has since disproven.
  • 3Com released the first Ethernet adapter card in 1982, which became so popular that 100,000 Ethernet cards were sold by 1985.
  • The earliest Ethernet cord transmitted at 3 Mbps per second, an idle speed compared to the speed of most modern types of Ethernet cable and hub technology.
  • Every Ethernet cable features a set of four twisted wire pairs to prevent interference and currents.
  • 100 Mbps and faster cables are popular with many home users, although 10 Mbps works well for home users.
Ethernet connectors
Network switch and UTP ethernet cables. When ethernet technology was developed, it paved the way for home computer networking. Image: Shutterstock

Ethernet History

Xerox developed this technology under the guidance of Robert Metcalf in 1973, with Metcalf, David Boggs, Butler Lampson, and Chuck Thacker co-credited as inventors in the 1976 patent. This technology, which grew to include the adapter and port options on new computers, started to pave the way for home computer networking in the 1980s and 1990s with the development of home Internet services. This technology predated many other types of connectivity technology, such as USB, and helped open up new possibilities for emerging technology.

Power Over Ethernet, or P.O.E. technology, has made it easier for devices to receive electrical power and an Internet connection using one cable. A network switch or injector makes this type of connection possible. In settings with fewer electrical sockets, this connector option helps save a lot of time.

Quick Facts

Created
1973
Creator
Robert Metcalfe
Original Use
Connecting computers over networks
Cost
$0.25 to $0.70 per foot

Ethernet: How It Worked

Ethernet technology allows for connections to different types of local networks. The cable or cord runs between a computer and a router, similar to phone lines. Accessory products that include splitter and extender options help increase the range of connected products.

When a device with an Ethernet connection is connected to a router, the device has access to a high-speed connection. Although most think of the connected devices in question as computers, many other electronics use these connections, including TVs. Extender options are also associated with these connections when a device is somewhat farther from the router.

Ethernet: Historical Significance

Ethernet - smart tv
A modern panoramic smart TV in a living room. Smart TVs are one of the type of devices that requires Ethernet technology. Image: iStock

The invention of the Ethernet adapter and cable opened the door to many significant innovations in Internet technology. Many of the connected devices that people use today rely on this technology, in addition to USB or Wi-Fi technology. Many of the devices people use for their entertainment needs would lack Internet connectivity without Internet connectivity.

An example of one type of device that requires this technology is the smart TV. These Internet-connected TVs are very popular with users who stream most of their content. An Ethernet connector for these devices provides a more reliable connection than a wireless option, with splitter and switch options for more complex setups.

Newer game systems feature these ports to allow for better connectivity. Examples of these Internet-connected systems include the Sony Playstation and the Microsoft Xbox. An Internet connection provides multi-player options, and also allows the systems to function as streaming devices.

Ethernet FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

When was Ethernet invented?

Ethernet was invented in 1973 at Xerox, under the guidance of Robert Metcalfe.

What is Ethernet?

Ethernet is an Internet networking technology, utilizing splitter, cord, switch, port, extender, and hub connections.

What is ethernet, and why is it used?

Ethernet is a suitable connector for reliable Internet connections faster and more reliable than Wi-Fi.

Who invented Ethernet?

Robert Metcalf invented Ethernet with assistance from David Boggs, Butler Lampson, and Chuck Thacker.

How does Ethernet work?

Ethernet connects a computer or other device to the Internet, often with the help of a hub or router.

Is Ethernet better than Wifi?

Ethernet is generally better than Wi-Fi because it is more secure and reliable.

What does an Ethernet cable look like?

An Ethernet cable lookalike an oversized phone cable, with a connector resembling a phone connector more than a USB connector.

What is an Ethernet connection?

An Ethernet connection is a wired connection that provides access to a local or wide area network using established protocols.

What does an Ethernet cable do?

An Ethernet cable transmits broadband signals between your modem or router and computer, as well as other connected devices.

  • Britannica Available here: https://www.britannica.com/technology/Ethernet
  • Home Advisor Available here: https://www.homeadvisor.com/cost/home-offices/install-a-computer-network-or-wiring/#:~:text=Cost%20to%20Wire%20Ethernet%20in,%240.70%20per%20foot%20of%20cable
  • Network World Available here: https://www.networkworld.com/article/2166255/10-things-you-may-not-know-about-ethernet.html
  • Thought Co Available here: https://www.thoughtco.com/history-of-ethernet-robert-metcalfe-4079022
  • Comms Available here: https://www.comms-express.com/blog/what-does-an-ethernet-cable-do/
  • Interesting Reality Available here: https://www.interestingreality.com/few-facts-about-ethernet-cable/
  • Spectrum Enterprise Available here: https://enterprise.spectrum.com/support/faq/network/what-is-the-difference-between-wifi-and-ethernet-connection.html