This article is from the Mac communications FAQ, by Bruce L Grubb BruceG6069@aol.com with numerous contributions by others.
When attempting to describe networking terms, a distinction should be
drawn between networking _protocols_ (such as AppleTalk and TCP/IP)
and networking _hardware_ (such as LocalTalk, Ethernet, and TokenRing).
In most cases, a specific protocol can be used over more than one
In order to help understand the interaction of these disparate parts
in a real-world network, we can adopt the useful analogy of multi-layer
cake with the physical wire at the very bottom and the software which
you are running at the very top.
Thus, we can think of LocalTalk, Ethernet and TokenRing as being the
layers at the bottom, AppleTalk and TCP/IP in the middle and programs
like NCSA Telnet, NFS/Share and Netscape at the top.
The following terms describe protocols (software descriptions) common
to the Macintosh networking world:
A proprietary suite of protocols developed by Apple Computer,
Inc. that provides for near-transparent network connections
between Macintosh computers. However, over the years AppleTalk has
been ported to other OSes including UNIX, VMS and DOS.
Questions about the AppleTalk protocol are probably best posed
in the newsgroup comp.protocols.appletalk.
EtherTalk and TokenTalk
The drivers which allows AppleTalk protocols to be transported
by Ethernet and over IBM TokenRing networks respectively.
A suite of protocols developed by the Defense Advanced Research
Projects Agency (DARPA) whose purpose is multi-platform
connectivity. TCP/IP stands for Transmission Control
Protocol/Internet Protocol, because these are the two most
widely used protocols in the suite. However, TCP/IP includes the
User Datagram Protocol (UDP), Address Resolution Protocol (ARP),
Reverse Address Resolution Protocol (RARP) and others. TCP/IP
drivers are available for almost all of the computer platforms
in use today, including micros, minis, main-frames and
The following terms describe hardware (the physical link such as the
wire(s) connecting computers) common to the Macintosh networking
One type of hardware over which AppleTalk protocols can be
transported. LocalTalk has a throughput of 230.4 Kbps
second, or roughly a quarter of a Mbps.
Another type of hardware commonly used to transport AppleTalk
packets. PhoneNet mates LocalTalk hardware with ordinary
(unused) telephone wire. PhoneNet is probably the cheapest way
to connect widely separated Macintosh computers within a single
A network medium over which AppleTalk, TCP/IP and other
protocols travel, often simultaneously. Ethernet's maximum
throughput is 10 Mbps. FastEthernet offers 100 Mbps.
A network medium developed (and patented) by IBM based on a
topology of a ring of nodes connected serially by a single cable.
Each node, or computer, speaks on the cable only when it has
posession of a token. TokenRing technology can demonstrate
throughputs of ranging from 4 to 16 Mbps.