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Table of Contents:

Written By: 

Preeti Jain


Networking is playing vital role in current IT era where data distribution and access is critically important. As the use of communication between two or more entities increases the networking technologies need to be improved and refurbished over time.  Similarly the transmission media, the heart of a network, has been changed with the time improving on the previous one. If you know a little bit about networking you surely have heard the term Ethernet which is currently the dominant network technology.  Wide spread of the Ethernet technology made most of the offices, universities and buildings use the technology for establishment of local area networks (LANs).

To understand what actually Ethernet is, we need to know about IEEE first which is a short of Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. IEEE is a part of International Organization for Standardization (ISO) whose standard IEEE 802.3 is defined for Local Area Network. The standard 802.3 commonly known as ETHERNT defines the communication standards for how data is transferred from one network device to another in a local area network. Since the limit for Ethernet cable is few hundred meters Ethernet is commonly deployed for networks lying in a single building to connect devices with close proximity. The same standard for Ethernet enables manufactures from around the earth to manufacture Ethernet products in accordance with the ISO standards that are feasible for all computing devices worldwide.
Local Area Network
A LAN is an interconnected group of computers that span over a relatively small area. Generally LANs are limited to a single building or a group of buildings where a wired or wireless communication channel is used for connecting the computers.  A LAN consists of following components:
      ·         Two or more computers
      ·         NIC (Network Interface Card) cards embedded in each computer.
      ·         A switch or hub to centrally connect all the computers and controlling traffic.
      ·         An Ethernet cable to connect each computer’s NIC to hub/switch.
      ·         Networking software.
A NIC is installed on each computer and is assigned a unique address. The Ethernet cable connects all computers through hub or switch where each computer is directly connected to the central hub/switch. In wireless LANs also called Wi-Fi, a wireless NIC is used in lieu of cables and data is transferred through radio waves.

Ethernet was developed by Robert Metcalfe at Xerox PARC between 1973 and 1974 and first documented on May 22, 1973. Later it was successfully deployed at PARC in 1976. After two years Xerox developed X-Wire - a 10 Mbit/s Ethernet running on a coaxial cable.

In June 1979, Robert Metcalfe left Xerox and founded 3Com to commercialize the Ethernet. He convinced Gordon Bell at DEC, David Liddle at Xerox and Phil Kaufman at Intel to jointly develop an Ethernet specification based on X-Wire. This specification was called DIX Ethernet which specifies a 10 Mbit/s ethernet cable.

In 1982 Sun Microsystems was founded to develop UNIX workstations with Ethernet. Later soon Intel introduced the first Ethernet interface card. In November 1982, the second version of ethernet was launched known as Ethernet II. Next year the 802.3 specification was formally approved by IEEE and it was adopted by ISO.  Soon there were many new companies like Novell, Cabletron, CISCO, Network General, and SynOptics to develop a variety of devices for Ethernet LAN. Ethernet became the major technology in computer networking by the end of 1980’s. Since then the technology is continuously evolving data speeds and reliability measures.
Ethernet terms
Ethernet specification defines all aspects of local area network communication. To understand its actual working, below are some important terminologies that are frequently used in Ethernet networking
·         Medium - An Ethernet medium is the cable used for data travelling. The earlier medium that was used in Ethernet systems was co-axial copper cable which was replaced by twisted pair cables.
·         Segment – A piece of the medium that is used in a single connection is known as segment.
·         Node – The end devices which are connected through segments.
·         Frame – Data and information is divided into frames, where each frame is a short message that travels from source node to destination node. Each frame is constructed according to the protocols and contains a source and destination address.