We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Telnet?

By Brendan McGuigan
Updated May 16, 2024
Our promise to you
EasyTechJunkie is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At EasyTechJunkie, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Telnet is a contraction of the two words Telecommunications Network, and is one of the major network protocols used on the Internet. It is one of the earliest network protocols, and one of the only original protocols still in common use on the internet. It was developed in 1969, with the RFC 15, and has evolved over the years to be a robust protocol, although with mounting security concerns it is often foregone in place of the secure SSH protocol.

Unlike the graphical interfaces of the HTTP protocol, which have given us the World Wide Web, telnet is a text-based protocol. The original purpose of telnet was to have an easy interface for terminals to interact with one another, using relatively simple command structures and accessible interfaces. Although still in use, telnet is rarely used by the majority of the internet-browsing public, who instead use HTTP browsers and email clients for the majority of their connections.

In the age before personal computers, anyone who wanted to use a computer generally had to access a terminal that was hooked up to a massive mainframe. Originally, each terminal was hooked up to only one machine, which led to a number of problems. For example, if one person needed to use a number of different machines, each of which specialized in a different task, they would need to physically go to each different terminal to do one job. This could be frustrating if the terminals were located throughout a large building, but was particularly maddening of the mainframe you needed to use was located at an institution in a different city or country from you.

The telnet protocol helped overcome this difficulty. By using a simple suite of commands, users could log in to a distant terminal and ask the mainframe there to undertake whatever processes they needed accomplished. The results would come back to them through telnet, and it was as though they were sitting in front of the terminal itself. In many ways, telnet helped revolutionize the way research was done, and helped build what would eventually become the internet we know today.

Of course, not all of the early uses for telnet were so practical. In fact, one of the ways in which telnet is still used to this day has its roots back in 1978, when a student at Essex University built on the earlier success of terminal games like Adventure and Zork to create a Multi-User Dungeon game, or MUD. These virtual environments, which include other varieties like MUSHes and MOOs, allow multiple people to connect to a terminal via the telnet protocol. Once there, they can play a collective game, often fantasy themed, by inputting text commands and reading the responses and inputs from other players. Although the use of MUDs has diminished with the advent of graphical Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs), they still remain a major use of the telnet protocol, with hundreds of thousands of players worldwide.

Although at one point telnet was used widely as a protocol by network administrators and those who needed to deal with their servers, it is rarely used for this purpose anymore. In 1995, a researcher at the Helsinki University of Technology in Finland, fed up with the security holes in telnet which allowed for malicious password sniffing and attacks, built a new protocol to replace it. This protocol, the Secure Shell, or SSH, has most of the same features of telnet, but has much more robust security.

EasyTechJunkie is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By SimpleByte — On Mar 16, 2014

@Nefertini - If you're using Windows 7 or 8, they don't have a Telnet client enabled as a default setting. You have to manually enable Telnet in these versions of Windows.

By Nefertini — On Mar 16, 2014

Telnet commands in Windows are pretty simple and easy to use. You can type the word open or just the letter o, for example, to open a Telnet connection with a host computer or a remote server, and you can type the word close or just the letter c to close the connection. You may need to combine the host name and port number with the command.

EasyTechJunkie, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

EasyTechJunkie, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.