Robert M. Metcalfe, Founder of 3Com

3Com Corporation trails back all the way to 1979, when Mr. Robert M. Metcalfe founded it. Initially, it was a consulting firm which assisted businesses in computer networking and establishing connections between computers. Robert Metcalfe was an engineer by trade (studied at M.I.T.) and was one of the pioneers in the networking computer business. Remember, this was back in 1979 when computer networks and digital networking as such was still in its earliest of beginnings. At the time of founding 3Com Corporation, Robert Metcalfe worked in Xerox and decided to quit and open his own company, with cooperation of his college friend Howard Charney (a patent lawyer) as well as two more people.

3Com derived its name from linking Computers, Communication and Compatibility, which basically sums up the intent and focus of this company.

In early 1980s 3Com’s main focus of business and sales was in custom made Ethetrnet Network Adapter cards, for a plethora of systems of that era, such as the IBM PC, DEC VAX-11 and DEC LSI-11. 3Com had patented their own ethernet tech as EtherSeries, with Ether being the prefix used for many different technologies, such as EtherMail, EtherShare and EtherPrint just to name a few. Branding of technology in such a way was introduced in mid 1980s.

In 1987, after years of doing good business in a fresh market of computer networking, 3Com Corporation merged with Bridge Communications, a move which expanded 3Com’s inventory of processors with Motorola’s 68000 series as well as with XNS protocols which were soon made compatible with 3Com’s Ether program.

3Com Palm III

Ten years after, in 1997 3Com also merged with USRobotics, a well-known and reputable manufacturer of popular dial-up modems. USRobotics was also managing Palm Incorporated at that time. However, many analysts consider the merge with USRobotics to be the slow beginning of the end for 3Com. At this time, the modem market was decreasing in sales dramatically and 3Com tried to keep up with the DSL market but was not at all managing to do so.

1998 marked the year when Mr. Bruce Calflin got promoted to CEO of 3Com, which was desperately looking to get a piece of the DSL cake in the industry, with no significant success.

When 3Com acquired NBX, a company focused on ethernet phones, it provided a necessary boost to 3Com’s growth by widening the products available on sale. This was making an impact on the new and fresh VoIP industry, which needed improvements in terms of practicality and security.

In 2000 however, 3Com pulled a notorious move which is often discussed to this day – they decided to leave the high-tech router business, pursuing other areas of networking market. This period has caused a lot of trusted and good quality 3Com’s products to be discontinued, such as ATM LAN Switches, PathBuilder, CoreBuilder Ethernet etc. After this decision, 3Com was never able to regain the status it had prior to this decision.

Later that same year, Palm Inc. was divided from 3Com, creating a new company with no ties, as well as U.S. Robotics a bit later.

From 2001 and beyond 3Com was on a steady decline as a company in all foreseeable aspects. The company went from 12,000 to 2,000 in less than two years. A joint venture was formed with Huawei, where 3Com basically rebranded and sold these products.

In the beginning of 2006, Mr. Bruce Calflin resigned from his role he head since 1998 as CEO. Later that year, Robert Scott Murray took over that role and he also became the chief of Huawei and 3Com venture that was active since 2001, going by the name H3C Technology, based in China.

2007 was somewhat of a sensitive year for 3Com, since there was a deal in progress where Bain Capital wanted to purchase the company for US$2.2 billion. This deal was under close watch by the U.S. government regulatory bodies due to the ongoing cooperation with Huawei, a Chinese company.

Finally, on November 11th, 2009 3Com was acquired by Hewlett-Packard, for US$2.7 billion. Up to this day, 3Com’s patents, products and innovations were held under Aruba Networks, which is a part of Hewlett-Packard’s network business.




Editor’s note: This is an informative historical article, for any troubleshooting for your 3Com product kindly refer to your model’s 3Com user manual or check out our 3Com modem troubleshooting category.