Ethernet inventor Metcalfe on innovation, IoT, and more...
Bob Metcalfe joins latest edition of RCRatx Speakers Series
RCR Wireless News was joined this week for the latest Speakers Series installment by Bob Metcalfe, networking pioneer and Ethernet inventor, to discuss the evolution of Ethernet, the “Internet of Things,” the nature of innovation and more.
Check out this video of Metcalfe talking with RCR Wireless News Managing Editor Sean Kinney.
Metcalfe invented Ethernet at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center in 1973 and founded 3Com Corp. in 1979. Ethernet became the industry standard packet plumbing of the Internet. Today, more than a billion Ethernet ports ship each year including Wi-Fi. Raising venture capital starting in 1981, 3Com went public in 1984, had $5.7 billion in revenue in 1999 and in 2010 became part of Hewlett-Packard.
In 2011, Metcalfe became Professor of Innovation in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin. In 2015, he also served as an MIT Visiting Innovation Fellow with principle interest in the startup ecosystems surrounding research universities.
“Ethernet has evolved rapidly over these 40-some years as the world around it has evolved,” he said. “The Ethernet we have today bears little to no resemblance to the Ethernet Dave and I built in 1973. We used to send memos; Ethernet was invented in a memo, typed with a typewriter on a piece of paper.”
On innovation: “When I started promoting my new careers … I settled on the term professor of innovation as being what I wanted to do. I wanted to get involved in the teaching and learning; not only the invention part, but the harder part that comes later when you have to engage the status quo. It includes entrepreneurship.”
“In this world, having Internet is the big part of the infrastructure for innovation. The proliferation of the Gigabit Internet … that’s an important part of building infrastructure. So getting Gigabit Internet in your city is a great way to enhance its participation in innovation.”
More on gigabit deployments, particularly potential obstacles including federal regulation, Metcalfe said, “The FCC is the principle potential obstacle here if they take seriously of making the Internet into a utility, that does not bode well for the proliferation of the Gigabit Internet.”