TELNET is a network protocol used on the Internet or local area networks to provide a bidirectional interactive text-oriented communications facility via a virtual terminal connection. User data is interspersed in-band with TELNET control information in an 8-bit byte oriented data connection over the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP).
Telnet was developed in 1969 beginning with RFC 15, extended in RFC 854, and standardized as Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) Internet Standard STD 8, one of the first Internet standards.
Historically, telnet provided access to a command-line interface (usually, of an operating system) on a remote host. Most network equipment and operating systems with a TCP/IP stack support a Telnet service for remote configuration (including systems based on Windows NT). Because of security issues with Telnet, its use for this purpose has waned in favor of SSH.
The term telnet may also refer to the software that implements the client part of the protocol. Telnet client applications are available for virtually all computer platforms. Telnet is also used as a verb. To telnet means to establish a connection with the Telnet protocol, either with command line client or with a programmatic interface. For example, a common directive might be: "To change your password, telnet to the server, login and run the passwd command." Most often, a user will be telnetting to a Unix-like server system or a network device (such as a router) and obtain a login prompt to a command line text interface or a character-based full-screen manager.
Telenet was a commercial packet switched network which went into service in 1974. It was the first packet-switched network service that was available to the general public. Various commercial and government interests paid monthly fees for dedicated lines connecting their computers and local networks to this backbone network. Free public dialup access to Telenet, for those who wished to access these systems, was provided in hundreds of cities throughout the United States.