Ethernet is a standard communications protocol that was designed by Bob Metcalfe in 1973. This protocol is included in many software and hardware devices and its purpose is to build a local area network or LAN. Metcalfe developed Ethernet with the help of Digital, Intel and Xerox, companies for which Metcalf worked. Metcalf’s “Dix” Ethernet has become the standard model for LAN all over the world.
A LAN that uses a wired connection will usually have the following components – two or more computers that are networked; A NIC or network interface card attached to each computer in the network; an Ethernet cable that is connected to each computer in the network, and; a networking software.
After attaching a NIC on each computer, each one is given a unique address. The Ethernet cable that is attached to each computer runs through a hub. The hub will then act as a relay. It will receive and then instruct packets of data across the LAN to go to specific computers based on their address. The Ethernet network basically makes a communications system that facilitates the sharing of data and resources. This also includes various devices like printers, scanners and fax machines.
Ethernet networks can also be set up with a wireless connection. Instead of using an Ethernet cable, wireless NICs are used in order to communicate with other computers through the hub or switch. In a wireless network, a small antenna is used instead of an Ethernet port. Wireless Ethernet networks are considered the most versatile and flexible because the absence of cables frees up the whole setup of computers. But the tradeoff here is the additional level of security needed in order to secure the network from being accessed by unauthorized users.