Thin Client History
Thin client was the description of a computer terminal popularized by Oracle beginning in 1993. Because Oracle is server oriented software, clients do not require much in the way of computing power. Significant savings could be realized with Oracle over other models such as Microsoft's that focused on computational power residing on the desktop. Although the term, "thin client", began in the 1990s, thin client history dates back way before then.
Known as "dumb terminals", the early thin clients were first used to interface with mainframe computers. Serial connections with the mainframe were used to send keystrokes to it and to display the results. All the programming and data were stored on the mainframe, with virtually no computational power residing with the terminal itself.
The advent of the PC in the 1980s and the decreased cost of computational power resulted in a new emphasis on localized, rather than centralized processing. This emphasis required operating systems and software to be installed and maintained on each individual computer. This sacrificed the centralized administration, security, and programming of the mainframe/dumb terminal configuration, ushering in the host of issues many deal with today.
Modern IT has come full circle. By provisioning centralized data security, backups and network / system administration, thin clients offer considerable flexibility and cost savings over traditional PC networks, while making it easier to monitor employee use of network resources. High speed networks enable thin clients to access Windows applications as fast as they would run on a local machine.
Thin clients can now come in different forms. Besides a traditional computer terminal, wireless thin clients are now deployed for use on LANs and cellular networks. Thin clients can also run as software on a networked PC. Ultra-thin clients expand on the thin client concept, but take it a step further by eliminating the need for a full operating system. An ultra-thin client comes equipped with a basic operating environment that allows configures the network and display options for the unit.