Interview: Ethernet's Inventor Sounds Off

Engineer-scientist, early Internet developer, and now venture capitalist: Bob Metcalfe has seen it all in 40 years on the front lines of technology. In this far-ranging interview, he waxes eloquent on the future of the Internet, the rise of the blogosphere, the demise of print media, why engineers should not become venture capitalists, and how to solve the energy crisis. Fasten your seat belts.

Robert M. Metcalfe

April 7, 1946, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, bachelor's degrees in electrical engineering and in management, 1969; Harvard University, MS in applied mathematics, 1970, and PhD in computer science, 1973

Polaris Ventures, general partner, since January 2001, specializing in Boston-area information technology startups

InfoWorld, 1990 to 2000 (CEO, 1990-95): Wrote an Internet column for eight years read weekly by more than 500,000 information technologists.

3Com Corp., 1979-1990: Founder and, at various times, chairman, CEO, division general manager and vice president of engineering, sales and marketing

Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, 1972-79: research staff member, computer science, and then manager of systems architecture

Engineer-scientist, 1965-1972, at Raytheon, Adams Associates, MIT Lab for Nuclear Science and MIT Project Mac

Packet Communication (Thomson), Internet Collapses and Other InfoWorld Punditry (IDG Books) and Beyond Calculation: The Next Fifty Years of Computing (co-edited for Springer Verlag)

Most recent awards:

  • 2005: National Medal of Technology, awarded by President Bush for invention of Ethernet
  • 2003: received Marconi International Fellowship, was awarded three honorary doctorates

  • Editor's Choice
    Samuel Greengard, Contributing Reporter
    Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek
    Carrie Pallardy, Contributing Reporter
    John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author
    Astrid Gobardhan, Data Privacy Officer, VFS Global
    Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing