Two or more computers and peripheral equipment (e.g., printers) that are connected with one another for the purpose of exchanging data electronically. Two basic network types are local area networks (LANs) and wide-area networks. Wide-area networks connect computers and smaller networks to larger networks over greater geographical areas, including different continents. Communications may occur over cables, fibre optics, or satellites, but most computer users access the network with a modem, using telephone lines. The largest wide-area network is the Internet. In the 1990s the World Wide Web was introduced and became the most popular way to access other Internet sites.
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Due to the buzz created around the term, and the fact that diskless nodes can be used as thin clients, it has also been used more informally to mean simply a diskless desktop computer or a thin client.
Because many NCs did not use Intel CPUs or Microsoft software, Microsoft and Intel developed a competing standard called NetPC for the same market, in order to try not to lose too much of their enormous desktop computer market shares to the NC upstarts.
The NC brand was mainly intended to denote a range of desktop computers from various suppliers that - by virtue of their diskless design and use of inexpensive components and software - were supposed to be significantly cheaper and easier to manage than standard fat client PCs. However, due to the PC coming down in price, and due to the increasing availability and popularity of various options for using PCs as diskless nodes, thin clients and hybrid clients, the NC brand never achieved the popularity hoped for by Oracle's CEO Larry Ellison, and was eventually mothballed.
Thirdly, the idea could simply have been ahead of its time, as at the NC's launch in 1996, the typical home Internet connection was only a 28.8 kbit/s modem dialup. This was simply insufficient for the delivery of executable content. The world wide web itself was not considered mainstream until its breakout year, 1998. Prior to this, very few Internet service providers advertised in mainstream press (at least outside of the USA), and knowledge of the Internet was limited. This could have held back uptake of what would be seen as a very niche device with no (then) obvious appeal.
Ironically, NCs ended up being used as the very 'dumb terminals' they were intended to replace, as the proprietary backend infrastructure is not readily available. 1990s era NCs are often network-booted into a minimal Unix with X, to serve as X terminal. While NC purists may consider this to be a suboptimal use of NC hardware, the NCs work well as terminals, and are considerably cheaper than purpose-built terminal hardware.
This list may be incomplete.
Applied Data Systems embedded single board computers are pre-loaded with Windows CE+CF or Linux 2.6, Full Debian. Special OS Builds are available to OEMs. The Bitsy series has been used for years in a variety of Network Computers.
NetProducts started working with Acorn to develop a next-generation product, NetStation II and started developing an email-only set-top-box (the TVemail). NetProducts went into voluntary liquidation in 1998 before either project was completed.