Take the 2-minute tour ×
Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

What are they emulating that keeps them from just being terminals? What does a plain-old "terminal" look like, if they are just emulators?

share|improve this question

2 Answers 2

up vote 10 down vote accepted

A terminal is the end of a line. So, back in the day when the computer was a mainframe serving many user accounts, what you'd be sitting at with your keyboard and display would be a terminal.

A terminal emulator is when you're using a computer (a turing machine) to provide the function of a terminal in software. This usage would typically come up because the computer would be 'imitating' a particular type of terminal in order to communicate with the mainframe.

A very popular terminal is/was the VT100. So if I telnet right now to the server of the local freenet (if they still exist) I'd be using VT100 emulation.

Source & more explanations here.

share|improve this answer
    
So when you're using a computer with no DE, just the command-line, would that still be an emulator, since it is just software? –  Matthew Jan 16 '10 at 17:23
    
Trumped again by Molly. I can't compete. ;o) –  Iain Jan 16 '10 at 17:30
    
@Matthew pretty much so, yes. –  Molly7244 Jan 16 '10 at 20:39

Until the 80's, there were no PCs, but mainframe terminals. These just had a command line interface with no GUI. The Linux terminal emulators we use today emulate the settings of those old terminals.

share|improve this answer
1  
+1 for strong competition :o) –  Molly7244 Jan 16 '10 at 20:40

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.