Robert Metcalfe (born 1946 in Brooklyn, New York) is a US computer scientist, best known for his work in computer networking (connecting computers to each other), over short distances, called Local Area Networks, LANs.
He has two Bachelor's degrees from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT: in electrical engineering; and industrial management, from MIT's Sloan School of Management. He has a Ph.D., from Harvard University, with a thesis on packet switching, written while working at MIT's Project MAC.
In 1973, while working at Xerox PARC, he invented Ethernet, a standard for LANs. In 1979, Metcalfe left PARC, and founded 3Com, a maker of computer networking equipment. In 1980, he got the Association for Computing Machinery Grace Murray Hopper Award for contributions to the development of LANs, specifically Ethernet. In 1990, he retired from 3Com and began 10 years of work as a publisher and pundit, writing an Internet column for InfoWorld. In 2001, he became a venture capitalist. Now, he is a General Partner at Polaris Venture Partners, and director of PopTech, an executive technology conference he cofounded in 1997.
He discovered Metcalfe's Law: the value of a network equals about the square of the number of nodes (users) of the network (n2). But, a node cannot connect to itself, so the formula is: n(n-1)/2
On 14 March 2005, he got the National Medal of Technology from President Bush in a White House ceremony, for leadership in the invention, standardization, and commercialization of Ethernet.