If you want to access the resources from a mainframe computer, you will either need to use a hardware terminal (which looks like a keyboard and a mouse) or you can use a terminal emulator. Windows terminal emulators have become very important for business and communications around the world.

There are not too many people that really need to understand what a terminal emulator is. They are used by anyone who wants to communicate with a company’s central mainframe computer. A Brisbane IT services company may want to access the information on your mainframe in Tokyo, they will need to use either a hardware terminal or a terminal emulator. A mainframe of a large corporation will be handling many thousands, even millions of requests from computers all over the world. In the past, terminals were used to communicate directly with the mainframe. Early adopters of technology, such as banks and multinational corporations installed mainframes and centralised computers to handle their data. Modern computers are not running on the old and ‘dumb’ languages of those mainframes. The mainframes still are. Terminal emulators were developed to behave like hardware, as software, for the purpose of accessing those mainframes. Here is a look at some of the important issues related to terminal emulators.

  • Not A Shell Terminal. Many people are a little confused with the difference between a shell terminal and a terminal emulator. There are some slight differences between these two. The shell terminal is an actual application operating on our operating system. Shell terminals work on the basis of command line input. Command line work is textual, and is completely absent of a GUI (Graphical User Interface). A terminal emulator can be graphical, and in that case, they are called a windows terminal emulator.
  • Hardware Terminals. Hardware terminals have been replaced by terminal emulators. A hardware terminal basically consists of a keyboard and a monitor. It is directly linked to the mainframe. Because it is hardware, the functions of the hardware terminal are limited. Information from the mainframe can be displayed on the hardware terminal, and the functions allowable from the hardware terminal could be performed on the mainframe. Hardware terminals are normally much less effective than the terminal emulators because terminal emulators have been developed from extremely complicated programming. Terminal emulators, and their relatives the windows terminal emulators, were developed to allow that communication with the mainframe, and more importantly, allow flexibility of the tasks that can be performed from those terminals. A hardware terminal is much more limited in what it can do. At the same time, the functions of the hardware terminal are fixed. The windows terminal emulator looks much like any other application on our desktop, but it is acting like those old-school hardware terminals to allow communication with the mainframe. Essentially, the windows terminal emulator is making communication and connectivity with a mainframe extremely easy, and something that anyone with a little computer knowledge can do.
  • Usage. Because terminal emulators are software that acts like hardware, we can have them running on our PC, and we can interact with our centralized computer or mainframe. Our normal PC without this kind of application cannot communicate directly with the data on the mainframe. For example, a scientist working for a multi-national pharmaceutical company might need the data that is stored on the corporation’s mainframe in London. The scientist can use the Windows terminal emulator to communicate directly with the mainframe and access that data. Basically, anyone who wants to access the information on a large mainframe or centralized computer will need to use a terminal emulator. A windows terminal emulator means that anyone can use the application, because it will have a graphical user interface, the need for them to code instructions has been removed.

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