How Ethernet got its name

Fascinating piece in The Register.

Ethernet was born on May 22, 1973. Or at least the name was. Metcalfe and his networking “Bobbsey Twin” David Boggs coined the term in a PARC memo circulated that spring day. Before that, they called it the Alto Aloha network, after PARC’s Mac-spawning experimental PC and the Alohanet, a University of Hawaii wireless network that served as a primary influence.

Before its existence was summarily disproven by American physicists Albert Michelson and Edward Morley in the late 1800s, the science world assumed that light traveled through an unseen medium known as the “luminiferous ether.” The first networked Altos were nicknamed Michelson and Morley.

“The whole concept of an omnipresent, completely passive-medium for the propagation of magnetic waves didn’t exist. It was fictional,” Metcalfe tells us. “But when David and I were building this thing at PARC, we planned to run a cable up and down every corridor to actually create an omnipresent, completely-passive medium for the propagation of electromagnetic waves. In this case, data packets.”