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Bob Metcalfe

2008 Fellow

For fundamental contributions to the invention, standardization, and commercialization of Ethernet.


Bob Metcalfe Background Video

Ethernet sketch by Bob Metcalfe, 1972
Ethernet sketch by Bob Metcalfe, 1972

Bob Metcalfe was born in 1946, in Brooklyn, New York. He graduated from MIT in 1969 with bachelor's degrees in electrical engineering and industrial management. He also completed a master's in applied mathematics (1970) and a Ph.D. in computer science (1973) at Harvard.

A year earlier, Metcalfe had joined the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), working in the Computer Science Laboratory. While there, and in collaboration with David Boggs, he invented and developed the Ethernet local-area network (LAN) technology and its system of packet protocols. This allowed personal computers to share files and printers, a major advancement.

In 1979, Metcalfe founded 3Com Corporation to build on this work and promote "computer communication compatibility." 3Com initially developed PC LAN products based on emerging UNIX, TCP/IP, and Ethernet standards. It went public in 1984 and grew into a billion-dollar networking company.

From 1990 to 2000, Metcalfe wrote weekly Internet columns for InfoWorld, later collected in his book, Internet Collapses. In 2001, Metcalfe joined Polaris Venture Partners. His contributions have been widely recognized, including the ACM Grace Murray Hopper Award, the IEEE Medal of Honor, and the National Medal of Technology. He is a member of the National Inventors Hall of Fame.