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A console is the combination of a monitor and keyboard. It is a rudimentary interface in which the monitor provides the output and the keyboard is used for input.

While any computer with a monitor and keyboard may be considered a console, the term most often refers to a system used to control one or more servers. Early consoles in the 1970s and 1980s provided a text-only "command line" interface, in which a network admin could type commands at a command prompt. Modern consoles often provide a graphical interface that can be used to control machines on a local network (LAN) or provide remote access to remote systems. These consoles typically include a mouse for navigating graphical interfaces.

The terms "console" and "terminal" are often used synonymously. However, "terminal" may also be used to describe the software that runs on a console, such as a command line interface or remote access program. Mac OS X includes both a Terminal program that provides a command line interface, and a Console utility that displays system logs and diagnostic reports.

NOTE: A console may also refer to other types of hardware besides computer interfaces. For example, gaming systems such as the PlayStation, Xbox, and Wii, are called video game consoles, while multi-channel audio mixing boards are called mixing consoles.

Updated: March 12, 2012

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