Text Mode

What Does Text Mode Mean?

Text mode is a personal computer display setting that divides the display screen into 25 rows and 80 columns in order to display text without images. In text mode, each box can contain one character. Text mode contrasts with graphics mode, which features an array of pixels instead of text boxes.


Text mode is also known as character mode or alphanumeric mode.

Techopedia Explains Text Mode

Text mode initially came to prominence in the early 1970s, when video display text terminals started to replace teleprinters in human-computer interfacing. This simple display mode dominated the computer’s visual interface for much of that decade, before Apple and other smaller companies began introducing the graphic user interface into the mainstream.

Although text mode is obviously a very limited display method, it is beneficial in regard to its low memory consumption and fast screen manipulation. Text mode is no longer widely used, although it can be emulated on modern computers.


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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.