In the 1950s, minimalism emerged as an popular art movement. In the 1990s, minimalism emerged again as a popular computer trend. As computer networking became more commonplace, minimalist computers became more common as well. In fact, these trimmed-down machines, often referred to as thin clients, are still popular today.
Thin clients function as regular PCs, but lack hard drives and typically do not have extra I/O ports or other unnecessary features. Since they do not have hard drives, thin clients do not have any software installed on them. Instead, they run programs and access data from a server. For this reason, thin clients must have a network connection and are sometimes referred to as "network computers" or "NCs."
Thin clients can be a cost-effective solution for businesses or organizations that need several computers that all do the same thing. For example, students in a classroom could all run the same program from a server, each using his own thin client machine. Because the server provides the software to each computer on the network, it is not necessary for each NC to have a hard drive. Thin clients also make it easier to manage computer networks since software issues need to be managed only on the server instead of on each machine.