Computer Terminal


A computer terminal is an electronic or electromechanical hardware device that is used for entering data into, and displaying data from, a computer or a computing system.

Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating a mathematical sequence of steps known as an algorithm — e.g. through computers.

A computer is a device that can be instructed to carry out an arbitrary set of arithmetic or logical operations automatically.

DEC VT05 video terminal from 1973 in action by hakaider


Early terminals were inexpensive devices but very slow compared to punched cards or paper tape for input, but as the technology improved and video displays were introduced, terminals pushed these older forms of interaction from the industry.

A punched card or punch card is a piece of stiff paper that can be used to contain digital information represented by the presence or absence of holes in predefined positions.

Punched tape or perforated paper tape is a form of data storage, consisting of a long strip of paper in which holes are punched to store data.

A display device is an output device for presentation of information in visual or tactile form.

Tomorrow's World: Home Computer Terminal 20 September 1967 - BBC by BBC


A related development was timesharing systems, which evolved in parallel and made up for any inefficiencies of the user's typing ability with the ability to support multiple users on the same machine, each at their own terminal.

In computing, time-sharing is the sharing of a computing resource among many users by means of multiprogramming and multi-tasking at the same time.


The function of a terminal is confined to display and input of data; a device with significant local programmable data processing capability may be called a "smart terminal" or fat client.

A fat client is a computer in client–server architecture or networks that typically provides rich functionality independent of the central server.


A terminal that depends on the host computer for its processing power is called a "dumb terminal" or thin client.


A personal computer can run terminal emulator software that replicates the function of a terminal, sometimes allowing concurrent use of local programs and access to a distant terminal host system.

Computer software, or simply software, is that part of a computer system that consists of encoded information or computer instructions, in contrast to the physical hardware from which the system is built.

A terminal emulator, terminal application, term, or tty for short, is a program that emulates a video terminal within some other display architecture.

A personal computer is a general-purpose computer whose size, capabilities, and price make it feasible for individual use.

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