It is hard to imagine today, but there was a time when there were several competing network technologies. There was Ethernet, of course. But you could also find token ring, DEC Net, EcoNet, and ARCNet. If you’ve never dug into ARCNet, [Retrobytes] has a comprehensive history you can watch that will explain it all.
Like token ring, ARCNet used a token-passing scheme to allow each station on the network to take turns sending data. Unlike token ring and Ethernet, the hardware setup was much less expensive. Along the way, you get a brief history of the Intel 8008 CPU, which, arguably, started the personal computer revolution.
Like most networking products of the day, ARCNet was proprietary. However, by the late 1980s, open standards were the rage, and Ethernet took advantage. Up until Ethernet was able to ride on twisted pairs, however, it was more expensive and less flexible than ARCNet.
The standard used RG-62/U coax and either passive or active hubs in a star configuration. The coax could be up to 2,000 feet away, so very large networks were feasible. It was also possible to share the coax with analog videoconferencing.
Looking back, ARCNet had a lot to recommend it, but we know that Ethernet would win the day. But [Retrobytes] explains what happened and why.