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As the original 3270 series terminals were connected to the host computer through a display controller (cluster controller)[a] using coaxial cable, emulators originally required channel (rare), coax or synchronous communication adapter cards to be installed in the PC. Today, many emulators communicate with the mainframe computer through a TN3270 server[b] using the TN3270 (RFC 1576) variant of the Telnet (RFC 495)protocol common on TCP/IP networks including the Internet, so special hardware is no longer required on machines with Internet access. Several vendors offered both coax and communications attached 3270 emulators and TN3270 clients as part of the same product.
In 1983, IBM marketed the IBM 3270 PC, a bundled package including a PC, a graphics adapter, 3270 emulation software and coax interface card. 3270 emulators and TN3270 clients are also available from many third-party vendors like Attachmate and Ericom. Some solutions permitted a coax interface to be shared by workstations in a LAN.
- The original cluster controllers could be directly attached to an I/O channel or indirectly through a synchronous communications link. Later versions also supported Token Ring and Ethernet.
- In some cases the TN3270 server is embedded in an adapter, e.g, IBM OSA-ICC, and the emulated 3270 terminals appear to be on a channel attached cluster controller.
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- x3270: open-source, multi-platform TN3270 client
- TN3270: emulator for Linux, Windows, Mac OS X
- Virtel: terminal thin-client emulation for 3270 mainframe screens
- QWS3270 PLUS, a TN3270 client by Jolly Giant Software
- QWS3270 Secure, a TN3270E client by Jolly Giant Software
- Vista tn3270, a TN3270 emulator by Tom Brennan Software
- Rocket BlueZone: a 3270 terminal emulator by Rocket Software
- Nexus Terminal, a TN3270/TN5250, SSH, SFTP/FTPS and printer client by Nexus Integration
- FlexTerm, a TN3270 client by FlexSoftware Inc
- Mocha TN3270, a TN3270 client by Mochasoft
- Extra! X-treme, a TN3270 client by Attachmate
- Host Explorer, a TN3270 client by OpenText (formerly Hummingbird)
- Personal Communications, PCOMM: a 3270 emulator and TN3270 client by IBM
- tn3270 X, a TN3270 emulator for Mac OS from Brown University
- Flynet Viewer™, a web-based client by Flynet
- Host Access for the Cloud, a highly available, cloud deployed, web-based client by Micro Focus