Wednesday, April 13, 2022

1:30 – 3:00 PM PDT


Host: IEEE Santa Clara Valley Life Members Affinity Group (SCV-LMAG)
Co-sponsored by: IEEE Consultants’ Network of Silicon Valley (CNSV)



Ethernet was invented in 1973-74 at Xerox PARC in Palo Alto, CA, to network the PARC’s Alto GUI workstations and the world’s first networked laser printer. This presentation will trace the history and development of Ethernet as a 10 Mb/s product up through the release of the DIX (DEC-Intel-Xerox) spec in 1980 as a multi-vendor open specification for industry. This was the starting point for the IEEE 802.3 Standard where its ongoing development continues to this day.

Our presenters will be a panel of experts involved at that time.  Their presentations will have elaboration from a select group of the actual implementors in addition to questions fielded from the audience at large.


Bob Metcalfe co-invented Ethernet in 3 Mb/s form in 1973 with Dave Boggs. They spread Ethernet’s use along with the Alto personal computer and laser printing throughout the Xerox R&D community during the 70’s. Bob became the relentless promotor of Ethernet both inside Xerox and externally, most visibly as founder and the public face of 3Com, vigorously promoting Ethernet throughout industry. In his many activities since then he remains Mr. Ethernet above all else. He is a Fellow of The Computer History Museum
Dave Liddle worked in research at Xerox PARC where he provided key elements to the first Ethernets. In 1975 he became head of the new System Development Division (SDD) to productize a better, top-down-designed, customer-rugged version of the Alto and Ethernet. That engineering effort (~250 engineers at its peak) resulted in the November 1980 announcement of the Xerox Network System of network servers (file, print, gateway) and April 1981 announcement of the Xerox Star 8010 Professional Workstation, all using the new 10-Mb/s Ethernet. He later co-founded and served as CEO for Metaphor Computer Systems, Inc., and was President and CEO of Interval Research Corporation. He has served on the board of many corporations as well as The Santa Fe Institue and SRI International.
Gordon Bell was an early employee of Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) and later became Vice President of Engineering there. He was instrumental in the decision to choose Ethernet as the network for DEC and for its promotion as an open standard. Among his activities he had a stint a Microsoft Research. He is a founder, board member and Fellow of The Computer History Museum.

Elaborators: Robert Garner, John Shoch, Bob Belleville, Roy Ogus, Hal Murray, Dave Redell and Rich Siefert

Robert spearheaded this panel session and has recently been interviewing people and collecting material for a historical paper or book on tonight’s topic. John was at Xerox PARC at the start of Ethernet and later worked under Liddle and succeeded him as head of systems development at Xerox before a later career in venture capital. Bob, Roy, Hal, Dave and Robert were all involved with the development of 10 Mb/s Ethernet at Xerox before the DIX alliance. Dave was the editor of what became the famous Ethernet Blue Book. Rich was a major technical contributor from DEC.

Moderator, Geoff Thompson was an early user of 3-Mb Ethernet at Xerox PARC, supporting Gary Starkweather’s pioneering work on laser printing. Geoff moved to Xerox Systems Development to work on workstations and Ethernet. He started participating in IEEE 802.3 in 1983. In 1988 he moved to SynOptics Communications (later Bay Networks/Nortel) to do standards work full time. He chaired 802.3 from 1993 to 2002 and still continues active participation there.