For the purposes of our catalogue, an adaptor is any device that enables a system or a part of a system to communicate with another system or a part of a system. This can be either over a LAN (Local Area Network) in the former case, or across internal buses.

This it does by being able to bridge the different protocols that may be used on the buses of either side. A good example would be TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol).  It may be in the form of an expansion card that plugs into a slot in the motherboard. Alternatively it may already be onboard, integrated into the circuitry of the system board.  This more likely to be the case with later systems.  Earlier machines tended to have less functionality as standard and more ISA/PCI cards were used to add networking capabilities.

Devices described as HBAs (Host Bus Adaptor) tend by convention to be those used to connect and communicate with the buses of peripheral devices such as storage devices.

The term NIC (Network Interface Card) is usually reserved for adaptor cards that link systems to networks or that link networks together.  Other terms include LAN Adaptor, Ethernet Adaptor or Ethernet Expansion Card.

(There is some overlap with this category and we have subdivided it. For graphics/display adaptors, please see our Boards category. For power adaptors, please go to the Power category.  The terms Adaptor and Controller are at least partly interchangeble.  We have parts described as “controllers”- I/O controller cards for SCSI, Parallel, Serial, USB etc –  listed under Controllers)

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