Technical Terms and Definitions

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Terminal - Networking

  • In data communications, a terminal is any device that terminates one end (sender or receiver) of a communicated signal. In practice, it is usually applied only to the extended end points in a network, not central or intermediate devices. In this usage, if you can send signals to it, it's a terminal.
  • In telephony, the term Data Terminal Equipment (Data Terminal Equipment) is used to describe the computer end of the DTE-to-DCE (Data Communications Equipment) communication between a computer and a modem.
  • In computers, a terminal (sometimes qualified as a "dumb" terminal) is an end-use device (usually with display monitor and keyboard) with little or no software of its own that relies on a mainframe or another computer (such as a PC server) for its "intelligence." IBM's 3270 Information Display System was a widely-installed system of such terminals in corporations. Many applications designed for the 3270 or other "dumb" terminals are still in use at PCs that emulate or act like a 3270. The VT-100 from Digital Equipment Corporation is another example of a widely-used so-called "dumb" terminal. A variation of this kind of terminal is being revived in the idea of the thin client or network computer.
  • The term is sometimes used to mean any personal computer or user workstation that is hooked up to a network.