A dumb terminal was a terminal without its own computing functions or word processing capabilities. Such terminals were used in mainframe architectures in the 1960s and 1970s and had access to the central mainframe where programs and files were stored and processed.
Dumb terminals were asynchronous ASCII terminals with transmission rates of 9.6 kbit/s or higher that could only send and receive single characters.
The best-known dumb terminals of the 1980s include Digital Equipment's VT100 alpha terminal and IBM's 3270 terminals. Because dumb terminals did not contain their own processing power, their own feature set was relatively small. In distributed processing networks, these terminals are often used only for communication with the central computer. In client- server architectures, the client corresponds to the terminal and the thin client to the dumb terminal.
Terminals with their own intelligence are called smart terminals.