Ethernet is a hardware and software protocol that allows data transmission across whole networks of multiple computers. The protocol assigns an address in the form of a 48-bit key to each computer. It also manages time sharing of common data channels and streams. The protocols and circuitry needed to run Ethernet are now built into many computer motherboards. The first versions were designed by Robert Metcalfe, his assistant David Boggs, and many others at Xerox PARC in the early to mid-1970s. Ethernet is now the most widely used networking protocol, replacing such previous standards as ARCNET and FDDI.
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