Voices of Ethernet: Gary Robinson

Sept. 16, 2021
Gary Robinson was part of the “DIX-group” that submitted the “Blue Book” carrier-sense multiple access with collision detection (CSMA/CD) specification.

In 1980, when IEEE started Project 802 to standardize local area networks (LANs), Gary Robinson was part of the “DIX-group” that submitted the “Blue Book” carrier-sense multiple access with collision detection (CSMA/CD) specification as a candidate. “I would have liked to have one size fits all—and for it to be me,” he admits.

Indeed, Robinson ended up being one of the catalysts in developing the flexibility of the IEEE 802 standards family and working group that has proven to be key to its long-term viability. It was the idea of his wife, a psychotherapist. “My wife suggested a way of doing it. I implemented it. Other people followed,” Robinson says in an interview with Ethernet Alliance chair Peter Jones for The Voices of Ethernet oral history archive.

The “dot” structure to the IEEE 802 LAN group and standards (IEEE 802.1, 802.2, 802.3, etc.)—which Robinson advocated for in the early years of activity—was crucial in evolving to a fluid, productive activity in which disparate participants were freed to “go out and work to solve their needs,” he says. “Understanding what the needs of the people are—not the technology—is what made this standard work.”

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