A dumb terminal is a terminal that does not performing local processing of entered information, but serves only as an input/output device for an attached or network-linked processor.
Dumb terminals as best described what abilities they do not offer:
- use of complex encodings to reduce output data,
- enabling generation of rich content,
- offloading low level operations, like editing.
- Dumb Terminals are essentially Glass TTY. They only display what is sent without any processing. Only minimal commands are interpreted; the host has little to no ability to modify displayed content.
- Smart Terminals offer a wide variety of control over the way content is displayed (fonts, colour, size) and allow the host to manipulate content already displayed at the terminal with subsequent output. This enables dynamic content and complex screen designs like (text-)windows. Top models provide local edit features, offloading many low-level functions from the host to the terminal. This greatly reduces CPU load while at the same time speeding up user feedback.