What Is Ethernet

What is Ethernet? Ethernet is a popular form of local area networking. If you work in an office or have a home computer set up, chances are you are utilizing Ethernet every day of your life. Once you know the history and the technology, you'll have a better idea of how information flows through your home or office.

Ethernet History
Ethernet was first developed in the 1970s by Xerox. Initially Ethernet was created so that the company could send documents to print from all their computers to a single, newly developed laser printer. At the time there was no way of doing so, until Robert Metcalfe came up with Ethernet networking.

Ethernet Technology
In a nutshell, Ethernet uses a protocol with the ability to detect transmission collisions, meaning that data can be sent over the same line at the same time. For example, say you have two users wanting to print a document at the same time. Both users' computers are connected to the same printer. If they send both documents to print at the same time, this is referred to as a data collision. Ethernet has the ability to randomly assign which transmission gets put through first, and which one goes through second. The result is both documents are able to print, without either being lost in transition.

Data Transmission Via Ethernet
When you use an Ethernet, the information is carried over wires. If you're connecting through a network on your office desktop, you've probably noticed a thick cord that connects to your computer resembling a telephone wire. This is the Ethernet cable. It connects through a special Ethernet port in the back of your computer that is much like a telephone jack, except it is able to fit a wire nearly double the size of a telephone wire. In the past, Ethernet was carried over coaxial cables, much like your cable television.

Ethernet technology has also continued to improve, allowing for more data to be sent over a network. Today, the fastest Ethernet connection can send 10,000 megabits per second, and many networks now run on wireless Ethernet.

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