VT100.net

This site is dedicated to the range of video terminals produced by Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) from 1970 to 1995. The most famous of these is the VT100, a name which is recognised most often today as a setting in terminal emulation programs.

The real video terminals dealt with here are dedicated devices which are connected to a computer (host) with a serial line. They usually consist of a screen and keyboard, with very little processing power and no local storage. Characters typed on the keyboard are transmitted to the host computer, and characters output from programs running on the host are sent to the terminal to be displayed on the screen. Why would we use devices this simple? Well, their simplicity makes them reliable. There is no operating system and no downloaded software, so they are pretty much impervious to user meddling and viruses. Before PCs put computing power on every desk, a central computer would support tens of users. Now that PCs are as powerful as old mainframes and can run capable multi-user operating systems (take a bow, Linux), there is a resurgence of interest in these low bandwidth, low cost and low maintenance devices.

I started this site in October 1998 as a place to put information that I had collected about the VT320 which I have been using for ten years. Although I’ve used various Digital terminals over the past decade, my favourite is the VT320, mainly because I’ve spent more time writing programs to take advantage of (and stretch) its capabilities than for any other in the range.

Frequently-asked questions about terminals and this site.

Primary Sources

VT220 Information

VT320 Information

General Information

Emulation

I’ve just started a new section on VT Emulation, containing all the materials about standards and escape sequences previously linked from this page.

Other Manufacturers’ Terminals

There are now so many manuals online from other terminal manufacturers that I’ll only be listing new ones here. For the full listings of manuals, please look at the page for that manufacturer. The following companies are currently covered: Alpha Microsystems, Ann Arbor, Beehive, C. Itoh, Data General, Hazeltine, Heath/Zenith, Kimtron, Lear Siegler (LSI), Lynwood, Qume, Research, Inc., Soroc Technology, Sycor, Tandy, Tektronix, TeleVideo, Terminal Technology Ltd., Visual Technology, Volker-Craig, Wyse

I have gradually been accumulating terminals by other manufacturers. The following manuals are online:

New Manuals

Resources Elsewhere

The most comprehensive set of links I know of is maintained by Richard Shuford in his Terminal Information Archive. Richard has been scouring newsgroups for years, archiving the best postings on terminal-related topics. This is an essential bookmark.