Years ago there real was not a terminal that you could cozy up to to do your computing. In the beginning there was a punch card machine. You would type in your data, your program in to 80 column punch cards. On this cards you would also have to number them. If the cards went into a pile, there would be an unpleasant experience reorganizing them. Used one of these for writing programs in Fortran.
systems came with enough storage, that you did not need to carry the
punch cards and you could print out what you keyed in and the results of
what you were working on with the printing terminal. Finance company I worked for had one of thes that connected to an acoustical modem contract the credit bureau..
The finally we get a crt soft of like a tv with a keyboard. Worked much like the printing terminal. You could even edit what you were working on in real time. Saved a lot of paper. You can not see it very well but the text was in green. Used one of these at a real outlet for sending email and doing various reports. These were still used less than 20 years ago.
Eventually the terminals also know as thin clients became more portable and you could use standard monitors with them. Thin clients came two way, they either had an embedded minimal operating system, remote desktop client, or a minimal operating system was installed from the network onto the systems. They basically connect to a server that does all the heavy lifting. The unit had no drives or off-line storage. This terminal is working with an Linux terminal server.
And now the ultimate in thin clients with the touchpads that are generally driven by web servers.
A fractured fairy tale history.