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Enterprise Systems Connection (ESCON) is a serial half-duplex optical fiber interface created by IBM in the early 1990s to connect mainframe computers to peripheral devices such as tape drives, hard drives and disk storage devices. ESCON replaced the earlier, more costly and slower copper-based, parallel bus and tag channel technology.
ESCON is now being displaced by IBM's newer and more cost effective Fiber Connection (FICON) technology, which uses Fiber Channel Protocol to produce higher speeds that can run over longer distances and are capable of multiple data exchanges in full duplex mode.
Enterprise Systems Connection may also be known as Enterprise Systems Connectivity.
In 1996, IBM hailed ESCON as the “the most significant change to large systems I/O channel architecture in 25 years.” ESCON uses optical fiber, which is smaller in diameter and weight than its predecessor, making it less costly to install. With ESCON, a single peripheral that could previously only be connected to one mainframe, could be connected to up to eight mainframe computers.