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avatar for Bob Metcalfe

Bob Metcalfe

IEEE-HKN Eminent Member
Inventor of the Ethernet
Austin, Texas

IEEE-HKN Eminent Member Robert M. Metcalfe was born in April 1946 in Brooklyn, New York. He received a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from MIT, and a B.S. degree from the MIT Sloan School of Management in 1969. He received an M.S. degree in Applied Mathematics from Harvard University in 1970. In 1973 he received a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Harvard for research done at MIT's Project Mac on "packet switching" in the ARPA and Aloha computer networks.

In 1972, Dr. Metcalfe went to the Computer Science Laboratory at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) to join in the early development of personal computing. In 1973, he invented Ethernet, the local-area networking technology on which he shares four patents.

In 1976, Dr. Metcalfe moved to Xerox's Systems Development Division to manage microprocessor and communication developments that led, long after he left, to the Xerox Star workstation. While at PARC he began eight years of part-time teaching at Stanford University, finishing as a consulting Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering with a new course on distributed computing.

Dr. Metcalfe left Xerox in 1979 to promote a personal computer local-area networks (PC LANs) and especially Ethernet. He acted as a "marriage broker" in bringing together Digital Equipment, Intel, and Xerox Corporations to promote Ethernet as a standard. Now an international computer industry standard, Ethernet is by far the most widely installed LAN, with connected computers numbering 50 million.

Also in 1979, Dr. Metcalfe founded the multibillion-dollar networking company 3Com Corporation in Santa Clara, CA. 3Com is now part of Hewlett-Packard..

Dr. Metcalfe is currently the Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship and Murchison Fellow of Free Enterprise in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin. 

Among many other awards, Dr. Metcalfe received the 1996 IEEE Medal of Honor. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and, in 2003, received the National Medal of Technology and Innovation.