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Visual Display Unit
computing dictionary

<computer hardware> (VDU, or "video terminal", "video display terminal", VDT, "display terminal") A device incorporating a cathode ray tube (CRT) display, a keyboard and a serial port. A VDU usually also includes its own display electronics which store the received data and convert it into electrical waveforms to drive the CRT.

VDUs fall into two categories: dumb terminals and intelligent terminals (sometimes called "programmable terminals").

Early VDUs could only display characters in a single preset font, and these were confined to being layed out in a rectangular grid, reproducing the functionality of the paper-based teletypes they were designed to replace.

Later models added graphics facilities but were still driven via serial communications, typically with several VDUs attached to a single multi-user computer. This contrasts with the much faster single bitmap displays integrated into most modern single-user personal computers and workstations.

The term "Display Screen Equipment" (DSE) is used almost exclusively in connection with the health and safety issues concerning VDUs.

Working with VDUs - UK Heath and Safety Executive.

Acronym: VDU

(01 Jul 2002)