AUSTIN (KXAN) — University of Texas at Austin Professor Robert Metcalfe has been awarded the 2022 Association for Computing Machinery A.M. Turing Award – referred to as the “Nobel Prize of Computing” – for the invention, standardization and commercialization of Ethernet.

Metcalfe is a professor emeritus in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UT Austin. The award is named after Alan M. Turing – famous for his role in developing the modern computer – and includes a $1 million prize with financial support provided by Google, according to a UT Austin release. 

“It is dangerous to accept an award for developing Ethernet, which turns 50 on May 22, 2023,” Metcalfe was quoted saying in the release. “Over Ethernet’s 50 years, hundreds of people have earned some claim of inventorship. Join me in saying to these folks, ‘Thank you.’”

Metcalfe developed Ethernet in the 1970s while working as a computer scientist with the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC). It was there that he connected some of the first personal computers within a building. The first Ethernet ran at 2.94 megabits per second, which was about 10,000 times as fast as the terminal networks it would replace, according to UT Austin. 

“Ethernet was the plumbing upgrade the internet needed in the 1970s,” Metcalfe said. “Ethernet enabled the transition from Arpanet, a network of time-shared computers servicing dumb terminals, to an internetwork of personal computers, their servers and routers.”

Today, Ethernet is the main conduit of wired network communications around the world, handling data rates from 10 Mbps to 400 Gbps, with 800 Gbps and 1.6 Tbps technologies emerging, according to the UT press release.

Ethernet is an enormous market, with revenue from Ethernet switches alone exceeding $30 billion in 2021, according to the UT Austin release.