by Leon Rosenshein

Happy Birthday

Way back in the depths of time (fall of 1988) I was a new grad working for a 3rd tier aerospace company called Eidetics and I got the task of connecting an Apollo DN10000 to an SGI 70GTX to create my first flight simulator. It turned out that we had a cockpit mockup that was used for instrumentation development and a batch simulation system that was running faster than real-time since the latest CPU upgrade. _Unfortunately_ the Apollo network we had used a proprietary token ring network, and the SGI was sitting in the corner by itself. So what's a new college grad to do in a time like that? I became a network engineer/administrator.

Of course first I had to figure out what a network was, and what could be used to connect two different systems, one System V Unix and one that claimed to be "Just like real Unix" but wasn't. Luckily there was a relatively recent addition to the networking world designed for rapid communication between disparate systems, Ethernet. So I got out a catalog, bought some thick-net backbone, a few transceivers and drop cables and hooked it up. Then I learned about terminating resistors. And kernel drivers. And TCP/IP.  And single source of identity in a cluster. And IRC. And email management. It was a great learning experience, and it taught me the importance of stepping up to a task I might not have known how to do when I started, but was able to figure out along the way.

Of course Ethernet has spread and grown since then. Gigabit ethernet over Cat5 twisted pair wires is a thing, and no-one blinks at connecting 10s of thousands of computers in a datacenter as a single network/cluster. Now we have Ethernet clusters riding around in cars that have more devices and compute power than the biggest network Eidetics ever put together.

So Happy Birthday Ethernet, and thanks for everything you've done for us.