What Does LocalTalk Mean?

LocalTalk was Apple’s early 1980s implementation of a physical networking interface for Apple II and Macintosh computers. LocalTalk used a system of shielded twisted-pair cables plugged into self-terminating transceivers. The maximum data rate was 230 Kbps. The system uses either an older 3-pin mini-DIN or later 8-pin connectors.


Techopedia Explains LocalTalk

The LocalTalk system consisted of a built-in controller, with cables and expansion cards sometimes required. It enabled daisy-chaining, which is connecting a sequence of devices to each other using the LocalTalk cables.

A cheaper variation of LocalTalk called PhoneNet was introduced by Farallon Computing. PhoneNet rode on the existing standard telephone cables and connectors using unshielded twisted-pair cabling. LocalTalk used expensive twisted pairs of cabling. PhoneNet enabled users to split their home phone connections into two, one going to the telephone jack and the other to their Apple or Macintosh computer.

The introduction of Ethernet in the early 1990s quickly made LocalTalk an obsolete networking medium. PCs produced by Apple’s competitors only supported the now familiar Ethernet standard with its 10 Mbps transfer speed. Apple itself ditched Local Talk with the release of the iMac in 1998. A few LocalTalk-to-Ethernet converters were made to allow older devices, mainly printers, to work on the newer networks. However, today LocalTalk is all buy extinct.


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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.