The Internet Optimist: Bob Metcalfe

September 23, 2019
Bob Metcalfe

Fifty years of tech experience have Bob Metcalfe optimistic about the web’s future.

A 2013 inductee into the Internet Hall of Fame, Metcalfe is the author of a 1973 memo that invented Ethernet, of which more than 1.2 billion new ports are shipped each year -- 400 million wired and 800 million WiFi. Prior to that, he built a high-speed network interface, and protocol software between a packet switching ARPAnet IMP and PDP-10 time-sharing minicomputer at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

In an interview with Xconomy, Metcalfe acknowledged that there are still access issues, particularly with respect to infrastructure delays and state censorship. However, his decades of experience leave him optimistic that the access issues will shrink over time rather than be magnified. 

“I guess I’ve learned over the years that cynics are often right, but they never get anything done,” he said. “Cynicism and negativity are a dead end. Every once in a while, things look bleak, but then they get better.”