What Does VT100 Mean?

The VT100 was a computer video terminal developed by Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) and introduced in August 1978. It was among the first terminals to fully support ANSI escape codes to control the cursor and do other tasks. It also had special extended codes for other special features such as those that controlled the various LED lamps on the keyboard. Starting with the VT100, the VT series of terminals became very popular, leading to the rapid uptake of the ANSI standard, which then made it the de facto standard used in terminal emulators.


Techopedia Explains VT100

The VT100 was the first terminal in DEC’s VT terminal line that became popular, starting from its introduction in 1978. The terminal communicated with its host computer system through serial lines using the ANSI character set and control sequences. The VT100 did many things first. As mentioned earlier, it was among the first to make use of ANSI as a standard for character input; it was also the first terminal to use “graphic renditions” for things like blinking, bolding and underlining, and reverse video on par with 80 or 132 column displays; and, finally, it was the first of DEC’s terminals to be based on an industry standard microprocessor, the Intel 8080. Because of this, it became the platform upon which DEC would construct other products.

Some VT variants include:

  • VT101

    — Reduced cost, non-expandable follow-on version but very similar to VT100

  • VT102

    — Had the Advanced Video Option (AVO) and a serial printer port pre-installed

  • VT105

    — Contained a graphics subsystem called waveform graphics

  • VT125

    — Had the byte-efficient Remote Graphic Instruction Set (ReGIS)

  • VT103

    — Included a card cage and a 4×4 Q-Bus backplane, which could configure an LSI-11 system within its case. It also supported an optional dual TU58 DECtape II block addressable cartridge tape drive

  • VT180

    — Codenamed Robin, contained a Zilog Z80 single-board microcomputer

  • VT278 (DECmate)

    — Had the PDP-8 processor, which allowed the terminal to run the WPS-8 word processor


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Margaret Rouse
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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.