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Robert Metcalfe

Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn

Robert Melancton Metcalfe was born on April 7, 1946 and is considered to be the father of the internet.

A native to Brooklyn New York, Robert Metcalfe’s father was an aerospace technician specialized in gyroscope testing. Metcalfe graduated from Bay Shore High School, where his mother was a secretary, before joining the Massachusetts Institute of Technology class of 1968. Metcalfe graduated with a degree in electrical engineering and then attended Harvard, where he attained a Masters of Science in applied mathematics and a PhD in computer science.

Metcalfe was a vocal advocate of the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET) and did his dissertation on the network. When Harvard refused to allow him to connect the school to ARPANET, Metcalfe began working with MIT’s Project MAC (mathematics and computers). There he built some of the hardware that connected the school.

While working at Xerox (Palo Alto Research Center) PARC, Metcalfe read of the University of Hawaii’s ALOHA network and assisted in correcting several issues. Also while working at PARC in 1973, he co-invented Ethernet, a means for connecting wired local area networks (LANs).

In 1979 Metcalfe left PARC in order to start the computer communications company 3COM. Metcalfe later left the company in 1990 and became a columnist. Metcalfe is famous for predicting, in his column, that the internet would violently collapse in 1996. His response to being proved wrong was to cut out his column and put it in a blender with water. Metcalfe then proceeded to eat the black and white smoothie with a spoon in front of an audience.

This was last updated in March 2019

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