April 05, 2013

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High-Speed Broadband on the Back of a Napkin

A lot of great business and tech ideas started out as sketches on a bar receipt, a business card or a napkin. Network World has some really interesting sketches of major technological concepts on napkins, saying that

Robert Metcalfe’s early Ethernet diagrams from his days at Xerox PARC back in the early 1970s might be the most famous napkin sketches in the technology industry.

Our CEO, Glenn Britt, was in the news recently saying that “the [cable] industry has poorly communicated its role in delivering broadband to U.S. consumers.”

Here’s a sample of how we worked to do that.

This sketch, below, was drawn on a napkin by Time Warner Cable technologist Mario Vecchi at a dinner in January, 1995. It’s the very first sketch of the architecture that became our Road Runner broadband service. The dinner was meant as a meeting to figure out how to get Time Warner Cable into the Internet access business.

The result of this dinner meeting was a sketch by Vecchi of how such an Internet service would work. Months of work followed as the design was amended and refined, but the sketch remains an iconic image of Time Warner Cable’s innovative technological prowess at work.

I especially like the sketch over there on the right of two stick-figure people in bed. Could they have envisioned a day when two people laid in bed together, mute and unblinking, watching episode after episode of Mad Men on a laptop? It’s also fun to see the names they came up with on the spot:

Netline
Connexus
Home Port
Speedway
Speedliner
Broadway
Boulevard
Netline
Gateline
Metropolis
Roadrunner
Roadmaster
Raceway
Townline
World’s Fair
Midway
Metropole

I think “Roadrunner” has more of a ring to it than “World’s Fair” or “TownLine.”

+- 1 Comment

  1. Catherine Turner's reply

    I’m curious if the napkin has been framed. This is kinda cool to see the roots of the industry and how ideas come about.

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