The EARN research network was launched in the early 1980s and was the European counterpart to BITNET. EARN is a computer network for universities and research institutions and, like Bitnet, whose European equivalent was Earn, operates with the IBM communication protocol NJE(Network Job Entry). This protocol is increasingly being replaced by OSI communication protocols. In 1988, approximately six to ten thousand systems were networked globally via both networks, of which 600 nodes were located in Europe (again, one- third of which were in Germany).
EARN connects the computers with leased lines (partly 64-kbit/s lines). A comparable institution in Germany is the DFN.