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ACM Turing Award Honors Bob Metcalfe for Ethernet


March 22, 2023

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ACM, the Association for Computing Machinery, has named Bob Metcalfe as recipient of the 2022 ACM A.M. Turing Award for the invention, standardization, and commercialization of Ethernet.

The ACM A.M. Turing Award, often referred to as the "Nobel Prize of Computing," carries a $1 million prize with financial support provided by Google Inc.

In 1973, while a computer scientist at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, Metcalfe circulated a now-famous memo describing a "broadcast communication network" for connecting some of the first personal computers within a building. The first Ethernet ran at 2.94 megabits per second, which was about 10,000 times faster than the terminal networks it would replace.

Although Metcalfe's original design proposed implementing this network over coaxial cable, the memo envisioned "communication over an ether," making the design adaptable to future innovations in media technology including legacy telephone twisted pair, optical fiber, radio (Wi-Fi), and even power networks, to replace the coaxial cable as the "ether." That memo laid the groundwork for what we now know today as Ethernet.

Metcalfe is an Emeritus Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin and a Research Affiliate in Computational Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.

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