Metcalfe's Law After 40 Years of Ethernet
The 3Com Story


Alan j Weissberger

Ron Crane had many technical accomplishments that were not documented. These include:
1. Co-designed the 10 Mb/s Ethernet card for the XEROX Star workstation/server. Ron designed the analog front end circuitry which interfaced to the external transceiver, and fully characterized the coaxial cable's analog response and requirements, including placement of transceiver taps. That 10 Mb/s Ethernet card was the basis for the DIX (DEC-Intel-Xerox) blue book spec for 10 Mb/s Ethernet which was submitted to IEEE and became the IEEE 802.3 CSMA/CD- 10BASE5 standard.
2. Ron drove that 10BASE5 standard within the IEEE 802.3 working group.
3. He was a co-founder of 3Com, designed and tested the EtherLink card (product # 3C100) for the IBM PC, which shipped in September 1982. 3Com founder Bob Metcalfe referred to Etherlink as "3Com's breakout product."
4. Singularly founded LAN Media Corp in February/March 1992 which initially focused on 100M b/sec Ethernet, but later (after David Boggs joined) designed and sold high speed WAN cards for Routers and other IT equipment. LAN Media was acquired in July 2000 by SBE Inc.
5. Designed a prototype and drove the IEEE 802.3 100BASE-T4 standard which operated over unshielded voice grade twisted pair (UTP-3). It was taken to market by 3Com and was included in the IEEE 802.3u-1995 standard.
6. Consulted for various companies on high speed communications network interface designs, liquid cooling, and other electronics projects.
7. As a volunteer, he helped restore an IBM 1401 computer at the computer history museum. Project leader Robert Garner (who designed the digital logic and microcode for the XEROX 10 Mb/s Ethernet card) said, "Ron was among the greatest analog designers in the valley, so his keen analytic skills helped us on the most difficult analog restoration problems in the IBM 1401. There was no problem he wasn’t interested in and capable of solving. He even improved the power conversion factor in the the aged 60-to-50-Hz power converter used to supply the 1401 system from Germany."
8. Co-created "Digicast" in 1979- a project to disseminate data (news, want ads, community information, etc) on FM radio stations. Digicast used subcarrier modulation to piggyback a digital signal on a standard FM radio broadcast. Ron and his project partner installed a Digicast modulator on the transmitter of KZSU-an FM radio station associated with Stanford University.
9. Founded a MIT Engineering chair: the "Ronald C. Crane (’72) Professor of Mechanical Engineering." The current recipient is Ahmed F. Ghoniem.
10. Published several papers, including: Evolution of the Ethernet Local Computer Network, Practical Considerations in Ethernet Local Network Design, A Technique for Digital Information Broadcasting Using SCA Channels

Alan j Weissberger

An additional accolade for Ron was receiving the IEEE Unsung Heroes of Ethernet award. I nominated him and Geoff Thompson for that award which was presented in July 2013 at the Ethernet Technology Summit. The Unsung Heroes of Ethernet etched crystal plaques were paid for by the IEEE SCV section (the largest IEEE section in the world). They include an image of Bob Metcalfe’s original sketch of the Ethernet system.


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