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A Look At Ethernet Cables

Ethernet cables are category 5 cables (also known as "Cat 5"), and are twisted pairs of high signal integrity cables. Category 5 cables are unshielded, and rely on the 'twisted pair design' for noise rejection.

Cat 5 is an Ethernet cable standard defined by the Electronic Industries Association and Telecommunications Industry Association (commonly known as EIA/TIA). Cat5 is the fifth generation of twisted pair Ethernet cabling, and the most popular of all twisted pair cables in use today. Cat5 supports Fast (100 Mbps) Ethernet.

Cat5 cable runs are limited to a max recommended run rate of 100 m (328 feet). These cables usually contains four pairs of copper wire, but fast Ethernet communications only utilize two pairs.

Twisted pair cable like CAT5 comes in two main varieties, solid and stranded. Solid CAT5 cable supports longer runs and works best in fixed wiring configurations such as office buildings. Stranded C5 cable is more pliable and better suited for shorter-distance, movable cabling like when connecting a modem and router.

While quite rudimentary compared to today's computer networks, the basic principle remains the same. Morse code, for example, is a binary system which uses dots and dashes in various sequences to represent letters and numbers. Modern data networks use 1's and 0's to achieve the same result. Telegraph operators of the mid 19th century could only transmit 2 or 3 dots and dashes per second, but modern computers communicate at speeds of over 1 gigabit--or 1,000,000,000 1's and 0's every second.

The telegraph was the beginning of transmission of information by cable, and we have come a long way since then, and can only imagine where we go from here. The following is a brief overview of the history of data transmission!

Ethernet Cables

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Network Cabling History

On May 24th, 1844, Samuel Morse sent a message 37 miles from Washington D.C. to Baltimore, using his newly invented machine, known as 'The Telegraph'.

In 1845, William Cooke and Charles Wheatstone filed an English patent for a telegraph, and in 1846, a printing telegraph was invented (which required somebody at each end). In 1861, German inventor Philip Reis invents a device for transmitting musical tones and called it a 'Telephone'.

In 1874, Jean-Maurice-Emile Baudot patented the Baudot telegraph code. Baudot's printing telegraph machine, which used a typewriter style keyboard, allowed virtually anyone to send and receive telegraph messages. Baudot used a different type of code for his system because Morse code didn't lend itself to automation, due to the uneven length and size of bits required for each letter. Baudot used a 5-bit code to represent each character.

To this day, the speed of serial communications is still measured in Baud rate, after Emile Baudot. On February 14th, 1876 Alexander Graham Bell filed a patent for the telephone. A few years later in 1889, Almon Brown Strowger invented the 'Dial Telephone' and 'Strowger Switch.'

Bell Labs invented the transistor in 1948, and in 1979, DEC and Intel joined forces with Xerox to standardize the Ethernet system for everyone to use. In 1980, DEC, Intel and Xerox published the 'Ethernet Blue Book' or 'DIX standard' after their initials. It was a 10-megabits per second system (10mbps was the equivalent 10 million 1's and 0's per second).

Although the telegraph and the teletypewriter were the forerunners of data communications, it has only been in the last 30 years that things have really started to speed up. In July 1991, the EIA/TIA 568 standard was issued for telecommunications wiring in commercial buildings.

In 2001, Cat 5e standard (ANSI/TIA/EIA-568-B.2) but now, even Cat5 is being pushed to its limits by new networking technologies. Just the following year, in 2002, the Cat6 standard (ANSI/TIA/EIA-568-B.2-1), and in 2008, it was the Cat6A standard (ANSI/TIA/EIA-568-B.2-10).

**We have come a long way throughout the years, but even so, technology will continue to evolve to meet the demands of our digital world!**