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Ethernet replaced any network technology?



Answer: Token Ring

In the early 1980s, the Betamax versus VHS debate was not the only highly controversial technology-centered showdown. Just as hotly debated, at least in the nerds, were the benefits of Ethernet versus Token Ring network technology.

Ethernet was a product of XEROX PARC's research and development project and Token Ring came directly from IBM's laboratories. Network administrators and geeks everywhere debated which network technology was superior and deserved widespread adoption. Early deployments of the Token Ring were, in fact, technically superior Ethernet Token Ring systems that supported larger pack sizes and utilized available network bandwidth more efficiently.

But over time, Ethernet emerged as a dominant cable system and protocol. While Token Ring had superior specs and could have grown to become the dominant system, eventually it was killed by market pressure, bad decisions by IBM (for example, they were very slow to release faster versions of Token Ring) and faster adoption of Ethernet in business environments. DEC, Intel and Xerox, on the other hand, worked together to improve Ethernet technology with a focus on getting the increasingly adopted network standard into the field.

At the same time, IBM kept a close grip on Token Ring and because of patent laws, they have to charge rigid royalties to cover their costs and pay patent holders. As a result, a simple Token Ring network card can easily cost many times more than an Ethernet network card. It was not economically feasible for most companies to adopt Token Ring technology and low adoption levels eventually drove Token Ring out of the market.

Picture of Redgrittybrick / Wikimedia.


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