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When Apple introduced the Macintosh in 1984, the Mac included networking software. This networking software used a protocol known as AppleTalk and a cabling system known as LocalTalk. It is a very simple and elegant protocol in that the computer takes care of most of the configuration. You simply plug it in and it works. Because of its simplicity and popularity with Mac users, and because the Mac users wanted a faster version, Apple developed AppleTalk version 2 with support for Ethernet (EtherTalk).


Each station on an AppleTalk network uses an address that is 24 bits long. Sixteen of those bits are given to the network, and each network can support 254 nodes. Each network segment can be given either a single 16-bit network number or a range of 16-bit network numbers. If a network is assigned a

range of numbers, that network is considered an Extended AppleTalk network because it can support more than 254 nodes. The node address is automatically assigned by the computer itself.

In addition to network numbers, AppleTalk networks use areas called zones. Zones allow an administrator to divide a network into logical areas for easier administration and to make it easier for a user to find resources.

Although you can have multiple zones on an AppleTalk network, an AppleTalk node can belong to only one zone.


AppleTalk wasn’t originally designed to be routed over a WAN, but with the release of AppleTalk version 2, Apple included routing functionality with the introduction of the Routing Table Maintenance Protocol (RTMP). RTMP is a distance vector routing protocol, like RIP for both IP and IPX.

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