Ethernet is the most widely installed set of frame-based computer networking technologies for Local Area Networks (LAN). It defines numerous signaling and wiring standards for the physical layer (Layer 1) of the open systems interconnection (OSI) model. This is done through a common addressing format, and a network access at the Media Access Control (MAC).

This technology is specified in the IEEE 802.3 standard. The most common wired LAN technology is comprised of a combination of the fiber optic versions for backbones sites. It is also comprised of Ethernet’s twisted pair versions for hooking end systems to the network.

An Ethernet LAN characteristically utilizes special grades of twisted pair wires or coaxial cable. 10BASE-T is a common Ethernet technology that gives a transmission speed of up to 10 Mbps. Devices are connected to the cable. These multiple devices gain access and are regulated through a protocol called Carrier Sense Multiple Access with Collision Detection (CSMA-CD).

Ethernet was initially based on the scheme of computers communicating with a shared coaxial cable to serve as the medium of transmission. This method displayed some resemblance to radio systems. However, the two differ greatly because collisions are more easily detected in a cable broadcast system than in a radio.

From this concept, Ethernet developed into a set of networking technologies that are applied for most LAN’s nowadays. Today, point-to-point links connected by Ethernet hubs or switches are used instead of a coaxial cable. This development resulted to increased reliability, the ability to troubleshoot, and cost reduction.

Despite the major changes in the Ethernet technology, all Ethernet versions share the same frame formats so these can be readily interconnected.

One Ethernet technology, the 100 BASE-T, is characteristically used for LAN backbone systems. Data can be transmitted up to 100 megabits per second. Gigabit Ethernet gives a greater backbone support at 1000 megabits per second. 10 Gigabits supports data at 10 billion bits per second.

Robert Metcalfe, one of Ethernet’s developers, coined the term “Ethernet.” The name came from the passive substance called “luminiferous ether.” This substance was once thought to encompass the universe, transporting light all over. Ethernet was named because the luminiferous ether was compared to the way cabling, also a passive medium, could bring data everywhere throughout the network.

Robert Metcalfe, David Boggs, Butler Lampson, and Chuck Thacker originally developed Ethernet at Xerox in 1973.

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