The Evolution of Ethernet Cables: 1983 to Today

It’s been more than three decades since the first Ethernet standard was officially approved, but in the years since, it’s become something we expect every day. Ethernet, WiFi, you name it and it all stemmed from this one Ethernet standard. Here’s a quick look at where Ethernet has been, where it is now, and where it potentially could be in the future.

This is the year that 10Base5, thick Ethernet, the very first commercially available variant of what we now call Ethernet was unveiled. The project took approximately three years to complete after the IEEE first commissioned it, but it paved the way for many other changes to come. For example, 1985 saw thin coaxial cables approved, and other modifications were made in 1897, 1990, and 1993.

1995 – 1998
Ethernet was real, but it wasn’t “fast Ethernet” until 1995. This year also heralded the coming of auto-negotiation, which allowed two devices to share data via Ethernet cables. And in 1998, 1 Gbps over fiber optic cables was released. This also marked the development phase for twisted pair Ethernet cables.

2002 – 2006
Ethernet reaches the 10 Gbps milestone in 2002, just after the USB 2.0 specification was released in 2000. This was around the time when Cat5 cables started becoming more relevant and widespread. Unfortunately, 10 Gbps wasn’t feasible over unshielded twisted pair cables until 2006.

This year saw, even more, advances for Ethernet. Cat6 Ethernet cables were in use by this time. In addition, higher speeds were achieved by merging lanes of 10 GBPS technology together.

2016 – 2017
Ethernet evolved past 25 Gbps in 2016. Not only that, but Cat5e cables, Cat6 cables, and Cat6a cables were all available to use. This was certainly a transition time for many businesses that were switching to higher speed networks. The next Ethernet standard which will bring us Category 8 has already been approved. It will, however, be a little while before the physical cables catch up.

2020 and Beyond
The future holds a whole world of possibilities for Ethernet. Anything from higher Gbps to even terabit speeds could come up within the next five years or so. Technology evolves quickly, and Ethernet is no exception to that fast-paced world.

The future certainly looks bright for Ethernet development.

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