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Monday, May 19, 2003

Simpler and Cheaper: Lessons from Ethernet

From an Infoworld interview with Bob Metcalfe...

Ethernet didn’t seem to have the problems that bedeviled IBM's Token Ring and ArcNet. Did this play a role in Ethernet's success?

Yes. Ethernet was simpler than its alternatives. It didn’t, for example, rely on the circulation and maintenance of the token. And Token Ring mathematically and, I think, sometimes unrealistically had advantages over Ethernet as long as the token was humming along. But if that token ever got lost or duplicated to create a storm, then things went to hell in a hand basket pretty quickly. The simplicity also allowed the implementations of Ethernet to be simpler and cheaper and come to market sooner. I mean, Ethernet beat Token Ring to market by five years. So that’s quite a lead. That’s probably what saved Ethernet from the IBM juggernaut.

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Portland, Oregon, United States
I'm usually writing from my favorite location on the planet, the pacific northwest of the u.s. I write for myself only and unless otherwise specified my posts here should not be taken as representing an official position of my employer. Contact me at my gee mail account, username patrickdlogan.