Terminal

What Does Terminal Mean?

A terminal is an electronic communication hardware device that handles the input and display of data.

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A terminal may be a PC or workstation connected to a network, Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) network endpoint, mobile data terminal such as a telematics device, or a text terminal, or textual language interface.

Techopedia Explains Terminal

Terminals vary by required data type and format. Early terminals resembled typewriters. Current versions include input keyboards and output display screens.

Terminals are divided into the following three classes, according to their processing power:

  • Intelligent Terminal: Includes main memory and CPU
  • Smart Terminal (fat client): Equipped with robust data processing power, but has fewer processing capabilities than an intelligent terminal.
  • Dumb Terminal (thin client): Relies on the host for processing
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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.