What Does Console Mean?

In computer technology, a console can mean different things depending on the context. It usually means a combination of a display monitor and an input device, usually a keyboard and mouse pair, which allows a user to input commands and receive visual output from a computer or computer system. It can also refer to specialized computers only meant to play video games.


A console is also known as a computer console, a system console or simply as a terminal.

Techopedia Explains Console

A console traditionally refers to a computer terminal where a user may input commands and view output such as the results of inputted commands or status messages from the computer. The console is often connected to a remote computer or computer system that is controlled from the console.

In the early days of computers, there were usually only a few consoles available for a computer system such as a mainframe, meaning that the term "console" actually referred to the terminal from which the computer could be controlled. This term has since lost its original meaning, and people now refer to the computer screen and input devices of computers as separate objects, namely, the monitor and input devices, and not as a single console.

In PC terms, the console no longer refers strictly to the monitor but to a piece of software, such as a command prompt, where a user can input advanced commands. This type of software is called a console because it is similar in function to the hardware console, which allows users advance use of the computer system it is attached to.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.