The Ethernet versus Token Ring battle is a classic example. The assumption was that advances in IC technology would render the relatively lower-cost-to-implement Ethernet irrelevant (Token Ring requires about five times more circuitry to implement). Ethernet's simplicity, however, lent itself to implementing many interfaces on single chip when it wasn't possible with Token Ring--and thus was born Ethernet switching. Fairness is irrelevant when each connection has its own link.
Alas, early prognosticators thought fair access to shared media would be the deciding factor, and so they predicted that by now Ethernet, like ARCnet today, would be a networking footnote. We keep both feet in the real world--your world--so we won't make recommendations like that. You can bet on it.
Art Wittmann is editor in chief of Network Computing. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.Art Wittmann is a former editor for InformationWeek. View Full Bio