3270 emulator

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A terminal window showing white text on a black background. An ASCII art logo reads MUSIC/SP and is captioned below as Multi User System for Interactive Computing / System Product.
A tn3270 terminal emulator running on Windows

A 3270 Emulator is a terminal emulator that duplicates the functions of an IBM 3270 mainframe computer terminal on a PC or similar microcomputer.

As the original 3270 series terminals were connected to the host computer using coaxial cable, emulators required coax adapter cards to be installed in the PC. Today, many emulators communicate with the mainframe computer through the TN3270 variant of the Telnet protocol common on TCP/IP networks including the Internet, so special hardware is no longer required.


An interface card for running the 3270 emulator on an IBM PC.

In 1983, IBM marketed the IBM 3270 PC, a bundled package including a PC, 3270 emulation software and coax interface card. 3270 emulators are also available from many third-party vendors like Attachmate and Ericom. Some solutions permitted a coax interface to be shared by workstations in a LAN.

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