(1) A computer in the network.|
(2) A method for administering personal computers in the late 1990s that never caught on. However, the concept was valid and is embodied in products today by several vendors (see thin client).
The network computer was a "thin client" that downloaded all applications and data from the network and stored all updated data back on the server. NCs were touted as "the" way to reduce costs due to centralized administration and lower-priced workstations. Its major proponents were Sun and Oracle, and Oracle subsidiary, Network Computer, Inc. licensed the specification for building compliant machines (see NCRP and Liberate).
NCs were designed to run stand-alone Java applications as well as Java applets from a browser. Several NCs were developed, mostly running a compact operating system that was booted from the server along with the Java Virtual Machine. Using software from Citrix, NCs could also function like dumb terminals connected to a Windows NT or 2000 server.
Hyped as the death knell for Windows PCs, the price of PC hardware was dropping exponentially, and the cost difference between NCs and PCs quickly became negligible. In addition, Windows was heavily entrenched, and Java was just beginning to establish itself. See thin client.
Although touted as a revolution, after a couple years, the network computer was not making an impact; witness this 1998 column from the Philadelphia Inquirer. (Article headline courtesy of the Philadelphia Inquirer.)
Sun was one of the first to introduce a Java-based network computer. (Image courtesy of Sun Microsystems, Inc.)
IBM's network computer was a versatile unit in IBM shops, providing both Web and mainframe connectivity. (Image courtesy of International Business Machines Corporation. Unauthorized use not permitted.)
Wyse had a combo NC and Windows terminal. Using software that turned an NT server into a timeshared central computer, Windows applications were run in the server and only screen changes were sent to the Winterm clients. (Image courtesy of Wyse Technology.)