Robert M. Metcalfe

Robert Metcalfe

Awarded the Marconi Prize in 2003

Cited for inventing the Ethernet and promulgating his Law of network utility based on the square of the nodes.

Presented by: Sir Thomas Harris, British Consul-General and Director General, Trade & Investment USA.

Dr. Robert M. (“Bob”) Metcalfe joined Polaris Venture Partners in Waltham, Massachusetts in January of 2001. He focuses on Boston-area information-technology start-ups.

Metcalfe is a director of Avistar, EarthLink, Ember, IDC, IDG, Kelmscott, MediaLabEurope, MIT, Nanosys, Narad, and Technology Review.

Metcalfe had three careers before becoming a venture capitalist:

While an engineer-scientist (1965-1979), Metcalfe helped build the early Internet. In 1973, at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, he invented Ethernet, the local-area networking standard on which he shares four patents.

While an entrepreneur-executive (1979-1990), Metcalfe founded 3Com Corporation, the billion-dollar networking company where at various times he was Chairman, CEO, division general manager, and vice president of engineering, marketing, and sales.

While a publisher-pundit (1990-2000), Metcalfe was CEO of IDG’s InfoWorld Publishing Company (1992-1995). For eight years, he wrote an Internet column read weekly by more than half a million technologists. He spoke often, appeared on radio and television, and hosted his own weekly webcast. He produced conferences including ACM97, ACM1, Agenda, Pop!Tech, and Vortex. His books include Packet Communication, Beyond Calculation, and Internet Collapses.

Metcalfe was born in Brooklyn, New York, 1946. He graduated from MIT in 1969. His 1973 Harvard PhD was entitled Packet Communication. He was consulting associate professor of electrical engineering at Stanford, where he taught computer programming and networking 1976-1983. He was a 1991-92 visiting fellow in the Computer Laboratory at the University of Cambridge, England.

In 1980, Metcalfe received the Grace Murray Hopper Award from the Association for Computing Machinery. In 1988, he received the Alexander Graham Bell Medal from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. In 1995, Metcalfe was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 1996, he received the IEEE’s Medal of Honor. In 1997, he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering. In 1999, he was elected to the International Engineering Consortium.

After 22 years in Silicon Valley, Metcalfe now lives with his family in Boston and Maine.