Ethereal is a network analyzer that lets you capture and interactively browse the contents of Ethernet frames. Packet data can be read from a file, or live from a local network interface
— Geralnd Combs (July 14, 1998) ANNOUNCE: Ethereal 0.2.0 gtk-list at redhat.com
I had spent the precious few months working on a protocol analyzer, which was something I needed at work.

The name wasn't Wireshark (we changed the name in 2006) and at the time of this email, protocol analyzers were rare. Back then, if you wanted to see what was happening on your network, command line tools like tcpdump and snoop were available at no cost, but if you wanted a GUI analyzer, you had to pay.

Wireshark project needs quite a bit of care and feeding. Until recently, the business model for meeting these needs has been "ask my employer if they'll host the project," which worked surprisingly well. My employers (CACE Technology, Riverbed and now Sysdig) provided the resources for Wireshark that go way beyond what GitHub and GitLab can offer, such as SharkFest, a conference dedicated to protocol analysis.

In recent years, it became clear that the project would best meet its needs by standing on its own, and with the help of Sysdig, we moved the project to the Wireshark Foundation earlier this year so that the project can continue to grow and serve its community.
— Wireshark Blog (July 2023) Wireshark Is 25: The email that started it all and the lessons learned along the way