Episode 03     Ethernet Cables

If you’re going to be using Ethernet, you’ll need to get to know about Ethernet cables. There are many different variables and variations in these Ethernet cables. They have differing lengths, and there are two important electrical criteria that you need to know about.

This is an Ethernet cable of the most common type in use today. It has two identical connectors, one on each end, and the connectors look a lot like the modular telephone jacks with which all North Americans became familiar during the 1960s and 1970s as our telephones were all installed. However, a close examination of this connector will reveal it’s a little wider than a standard telephone jack, and it has eight pins for connection.


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Episode 02     Ethernet Evolved: From Coaxial Cable to Twisted Pairs, and FASTER!

If you go shopping for network equipment today, you could wander the store shelves endlessly and never encounter any of the old-style Ethernet connectors - the round BNC coaxial type that we discussed in our Ethernet tutorial. Instead, nowadays you are much more likely to run into equipment like this, that uses keyed, rectangular connectors that look a lot like modular telephone jacks...


The industry evolved to that point through a couple of evolutionary steps. During a transition period that lasted through several years, it became commonplace to find dual-mode equipment like this...



...that had two different kinds of connectors, allowing you to mix and match the old-style coaxial segments with the new-style RJ45 connectors. (Just one little point of interest here: “RJ” stands for “Registered Jack.”) You could buy dual-mode Ethernet adaptors for your PC, and you could also find networking equipment like this, with dual connector types.

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Episode 01     Ethernet For Beginners: The Ethernet Tutorial

It didn’t take very long after computers were invented before scientists realized that they could do amazing and useful things by connecting two or more of them together and letting them send messages to each other. That way, they could share their work, or they could share their printers, they could share disk drives, and other resources. They’ve used a lot of different technologies to let computers send messages to each other. Computers send messages on light waves and radio waves and infrared beams and on all kinds of wires. Fat cables and skinny cables, ribbon cables, telephone cables, and modems with cables. But in the mid-1970’s a very clever guy by the name of Bob Metcalf invented the most elegant and popular method of all: he called it “Ethernet.”

Ethernet has evolved through a lot of different versions, and some of them are very sophisticated now. There are people whose entire careers are built on making Ethernet go faster, and they study the molecules and the magnetic waves of the cables.

But if we summarize it at its simplest, original basis, Ethernet is easy to understand, and old style Ethernet used to look like this...


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