Robert M. Metcalfe
1987 Technical Achievement Award Recipient __________________________________________________
Dr. Robert M. Metcalfe joined Polaris Venture Partners in January 2001 and is a General Partner in the Waltham office. Bob had three other careers in technological innovation before becoming a venture capitalist: While an engineer-scientist (1965-1979), Bob helped pioneer the Internet. In 1973, at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, he invented Ethernet, the local-area networking (LAN) standard – Internet plumbing – on which he shares four patents. While an entrepreneur-executive (1979-1990), Bob founded and grew 3Com Corporation, the billion-dollar networking company where at various times he was Chairman, CEO, division general manager, and vice president of engineering, sales, and marketing. In 2009, 3Com merged into HP. While a publisher-pundit (1990-2000), Bob was CEO of IDG's InfoWorld Publishing Company (1992-1995).
For eight years, he opined about the Internet in a syndicated InfoWorld column read weekly by more than
half a million information technologists. He pontificated at conferences, on radio and television, hosted his
own weekly webcast, and produced events including ACM97, ACM1, Agenda, Pop!Tech, and Vortex.
Bob's books include Packet Communication, Internet Collapses, and Beyond Calculation, all still available
down the long tail at Amazon.com.
Bob serves on the boards of Polaris-backed start-ups including 1366, Ember, Infinite Power Solutions,
Mintera, SiOnyx, and Sun Catalytix. Bob is also a director-trustee-advisor to Avistar Communications, USC
Stevens Institute, MIT, and MIT’s Energy Initiative, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer
Science, Department of Chemistry, Dean of Engineering, and Dean of Science.
Bob graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1969 with bachelor degrees in electrical
engineering and in industrial management. He received a master degree in applied mathematics from
Harvard University in 1970. In 1973, he received his Ph.D. in computer science from Harvard, where his
dissertation was Packet Communication.
In 1980, Bob received the Hopper Award from the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). In 1988,
he received the Bell Medal from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). In 1995, Bob
was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 1996, he received the IEEE's Medal of
Honor. In 1997, he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering (where he serves on the Audit
Committee), and in 1999, to the International Engineering Consortium. In 2003, Bob received the Marconi
Prize and was inducted into the Bay Shore High School Hall of Fame. In a 2005 ceremony at the White
House, Bob received the National Medal of Technology for his "leadership in the invention, standardization,
and commercialization of Ethernet." Bob entered the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2007 and the
Computer History Museum Hall of Fellows in 2008.