LocalTalk is a network protocol developed by Apple Inc. It was used in early Apple Macintosh networks and facilitated communication between devices by using a simple serial link. Despite its slow speed compared to modern networking standards, it was notable for its ease of use and inexpensive setup.


The phonetics of the keyword “LocalTalk” would be: /ˈloʊkəltɔːk/

Key Takeaways

LocalTalk is a proprietary data link layer protocol developed by Apple Inc. It allows for the connection and data transfer between computers and was often used in early Macintosh networks. Here are three main characteristics of LocalTalk:

  1. Physical Layer Transmission Technology:

    LocalTalk uses a wired physical layer, often employing the use of twisted pair cables. The network speed is limited to 230.4 kbit/s, which may be slow by today’s standards but was quite relevant and useful during the era of its conception and usage.

  2. Support for Small Networks:

    LocalTalk is best suited for small networks. It operates on a bus topology, which means it tends to work best with networks that have fewer than 32 devices. As the number of devices increases, there’s a higher chance for communication collision to occur.

  3. AppleTalk:

    LocalTalk is often associated with the AppleTalk network architecture. When LocalTalk is used in conjunction with AppleTalk, devices can share resources like files and printers with ease. The combination of these two technologies provided a complete networking solution, without the need for additional third-party hardware or software.


LocalTalk is a term significant in the realm of technology as it refers to a specific network protocol that was developed by Apple Inc. for their Macintosh computers. Developed during the 1980s, LocalTalk was used to manage direct serial connections between two machines. It was one of the several AppleTalk networking technologies that contributed to transforming computer interconnectivity. It leveraged the RS-422 standard to create a low-cost, easily maintainable network without requiring vast cabling infrastructure. Even though LocalTalk is now considered obsolete in light of the more advanced networking technologies available today, it was fundamental in facilitating early digital communication between computers while keeping the cost and complexity in check.


LocalTalk is a network protocol that was developed by Apple Inc. in the mid-1980s as a way to allow for the interconnection of the company’s devices. The main purpose of LocalTalk was to support the connection of multiple Macintosh computers and other peripherals to create a small area network. This network often relied on existing telephone lines within a building to transmit data and connect systems. The nodes in these networks could share resources such as applications, files, printers, and other services to enhance their computing experience.LocalTalk was an essential component of the AppleTalk network system, which was the company’s proprietary suite of networking protocols. It was typically used in small-scale network situations where a handful of devices needed to be connected, such as in a home or small office setting. This connection system was especially noteworthy for its ease of installation and use, requiring relatively little expertise to set up. However, while it was a popular networking option during the earlier years of personal computing, faster and more flexible networking technologies have largely superseded LocalTalk.


1. Apple Macintosh Computers: One of the primary real-world examples utilizing LocalTalk technology were the Apple Macintosh computers. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Macintosh computers used LocalTalk as a network protocol to enable communication between multiple systems. 2. Printers: Another real-world application of LocalTalk can be seen in printers, specifically those built by Apple. The LaserWriter, an early networked printer introduced by Apple, utilized LocalTalk connectivity for sharing the printer across multiple computers in a network.3. Apple’s Workgroup Server: Apple’s Workgroup Server also incorporated LocalTalk technology to connect multiple workstations together. This allowed for small businesses and educational institutions to set up their own networks and efficiently share resources. It should be noted, however, that LocalTalk technology is quite old by today’s standards and has been largely phased out with faster and more efficient networking solutions.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

Q: What is LocalTalk?A: LocalTalk is a network protocol developed by Apple Inc. It was part of the original AppleTalk networking system and was used to connect multiple devices to a network.Q: Who developed LocalTalk?A: LocalTalk was developed by Apple Inc.Q: When was LocalTalk created?A: LocalTalk was developed by Apple in the mid 1980s.Q: What is the purpose of LocalTalk?A: LocalTalk was used to facilitate network communications. This includes data transfer between different devices on the same network.Q: What types of devices use LocalTalk?A: LocalTalk was typically used on older Macintosh computers, printers, and other peripheral devices.Q: How does LocalTalk connect to devices?A: LocalTalk uses twisted pair (shielded or unshielded) cable connection with mini-DIN-3 connectors to link devices together.Q: How is LocalTalk different from Ethernet?A: LocalTalk is slower compared to Ethernet, with speeds up to 230.4 kbps. It also uses twisted-pair cables and a daisy-chain model for device connectivity, unlike Ethernet which uses star topology. Q: Can I still use LocalTalk in modern networks?A: LocalTalk is generally considered outdated and obsolete as it’s considerably slower than most modern networking technologies. However, some legacy systems may still use it for specific purposes.Q: Does LocalTalk support Internet access?A: LocalTalk primarily supports local network data transfers. It does not inherently support internet access, although connections can be made through additional hardware and software adaptations.Q: Is LocalTalk the same as AppleTalk?A: No, LocalTalk is a part of the AppleTalk system. AppleTalk is the entire networking protocol suite, whereas LocalTalk is the physical layer designed to connect devices within this suite.

Related Tech Terms

  • AppleTalk: A networking protocol developed by Apple, in which LocalTalk is a part of for data communication on a Local Area Network (LAN).
  • Local Area Network (LAN): A network that connects computers and other devices in a specific area, such as a home or office, using Ethernet or Wi-Fi. LocalTalk is also a type of LAN.
  • Physical Layer: The lowest layer of the OSI model. It transfers raw bit streams over physical medium. LocalTalk is the physical layer protocol of AppleTalk.
  • Network Interface Controller (NIC): A hardware component that provides a computer with the ability to access a data network. LocalTalk connections are made through the computer’s serial port to a NIC.
  • Farallon PhoneNET: A product that offered an inexpensive way to network Macintosh computers using existing telephone wires. It was compatible with LocalTalk.

Sources for More Information


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