Local Area Transport

Local Area Transport

Local Area Transport (LAT) is a non-routable networking technology developed by Digital Equipment Corporation to provide connection between the DECserver 90, 100, 200, 300, 700 and DECserver 900 terminal servers and Digital's VAX and Alpha host computers via Ethernet, giving communication between those hosts and serial devices such as video terminals and printers. The protocol itself was designed in such a manner as to maximize packet efficiency over ethernet by bundling multiple characters from multiple ports into a single packet for Ethernet transport. Over time, other host implementations of the LAT protocol appeared allowing communications to a wide range of Unix and other non-Digital operating systems using the LAT protocol.

In 1984, the first implementation of the LAT protocol connected a terminal server to a VMS VAX-Cluster in Spit Brook Road, NH. By "virtualizing" the terminal port at the host end, a very large number of plug-and-play VT100-class terminals could connect to each host computer system. Additionally, a single physical terminal could connect via multiple sessions to multiple hosts simultaneously. Future generations of terminal servers included both LAT and TELNET protocols, one of the earliest protocols created to run on a burgeoning TCP/IP based Internet. Additionally, the ability to create reverse direction pathways from users to non-traditional RS232 devices (i.e. UNIX Host TTYS1 operator ports) created an entirely new market for Terminal Servers, now known as console servers in the mid to late 1990s, year 2000 and beyond through today.

LAT and VMS drove the initial surge of adoption of "thick-wire" Ethernet by the computer industry. By 1986, terminal server networks accounted for 10% of Digital's $10 billion revenue. These early Ethernet LANs scaled using Ethernet bridges and switches (another DEC invention) as well as DECnet, and later, TCP-IP routers. Subsequently, the packet-based Internet emerged as a global connection between these packet-based Ethernet LANs.

Early Terminal Server Vendors

*Digital Equipment Corporation - An early provider of Terminal Server products
*Xyplex Corporation - An early provider of Terminal Server products based in Massachusetts
*Able Computer - An early provider of Terminal Server products
*Emulex Corporation - An early provider of Terminal Server products based in California
*Chase Research - An early provider of Terminal Server products based in Europe

ee also

*Terminal server - An active device to connect serial devices to Local Area Networks
*Console server - An active device to connect LAN attached users to Linux/Unix server operator ports

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