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Terminal, Console, and Shell



TTY or "teletypewriter" was the first kind of terminal. It was literally a typewriter that would print the input and output from a computer (most likely a mainframe) on a piece of paper.

A terminal is not supposed to be smart; it is only supposed to process input and be good at displaying textual output.

Software equivalent to the TTY today: iTerm2, and Alacritty.


Used to a device used in the mid 20th century. It replaced the paper printing module of the TTY with an actual screen which would display input and output.

Terminal and console are synonymous in software terms today.


A shell is the program that the terminal sends user input to. The shell generates output and passes it back to the terminal for display.

examples: zsh, bash