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Attached Resource Computer Network (ARCnet) is a type of LAN protocol that provides network services to 255 nodes at data rates of up to 2.5 Mbps. ARCnet is similar to token ring and Ethernet network services.
ARCnet was fast, reliable and cheap, and it allowed different transmission systems to be merged and implemented on same network. ARCnet was the first simple networking based solution that provided for all kinds of transmission regardless of the transmission medium or the type of computer. ARCnet was also the first widely available networking system for microcomputers. Although a new ARCnet specification, ARCnet Plus, has been developed to deliver data transfer rates of 20 Mbps, ARCnet is still used in the embedded systems market.
The working mechanism of ARCnet was not so simple. ARCnet used a token ring scheme for Ethernet. During the communication, each machine must have the token to jump into the communication process. This means that a machine cannot send/receive data unless it has the token. If a machine wants to communicate, it must wait to catch the token, at which time it can use the communication bus to send/receive data to other machines connected over a network.
ARCnet has many advantages, particularly its reliability and its ability to always achieve its aggregate communication targets. The only disadvantage with ARCnet is that the communication process is delayed when machines wait for a token.