Terminal Server - History


Historically, a terminal server was a device that attached to serial RS-232 devices, such as "green screen" text terminals or serial printers, and transported traffic via TCP/IP, Telnet, SSH or other vendor-specific network protocols (e.g. LAT) via an Ethernet connection.

Digital Equipment Corporation's DECserver 100 (1985), 200 (1986) and 300 (1991) are early examples of this technology. (An earlier version of this product, known as the DECSA Terminal Server was actually a test-bed or proof-of-concept for using the proprietary LAT protocol in commercial production networks.) With the introduction of inexpensive flash memory components, Digital's later DECserver 700 (1991) and 900 (1995) no longer shared with their earlier units the need to download their software from a "load host" (usually a Digital VAX or Alpha) using Digital's proprietary Maintenance Operations Protocol (MOP). In fact, these later terminal server products also included much larger flash memory and full support for the Telnet part of the TCP/IP protocol suite.

Many other companies entered the terminal-server market with devices pre-loaded with software fully compatible with LAT and Telnet. Some manufacturers stated specifically they had emulated Digital's terminal-server management command-set. Besides retaining the ability of the older terminal-servers to obtain their run-time code from a load host, most could bootstrap from on-board flash memory or from a floppy drive in the terminal server. Some terminal servers could act as load hosts for each other; one would hold the code on a PCMCIA flash card and serve it to another...

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