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Terminals are hardware devices used for interfacing with computer systems across the Fallout series. They are the means for controlling turrets, opening safes and doors, storing information, and activating robots and other special equipment.
Terminals found across the United States vary in appearance but are generally similar in terms of functionality. Each computer runs on RobCo Industries' Unified Operating System and communicate with another machine (or its internal components, if it was upgraded with some) via RobCo's Termlink Interface 3.0. All terminal commands are text based. Booting the computer is handled by another RobCo program, the MF Boot Agent v2.3.0, which in turn initialized the RBIOS (the latest pre-War version is 4.02.08.00 52EE5.E7.E8).
RobCo introduced a lockout feature that prevented access to the computer until an administrator unlocked it in cases of compromised machines. However, certain hackers learned how to bypass the lock-out. Some terminals have been rigged as traps. The operating system of a terminal is the Unified Operating System, published by RobCo Industries. A typical terminal has a keyboard for typing commands and a monochromatic monitor for displaying data.
Terminals are predominantly scenery objects, both ruined and functional, used in high-tech locations such as Vaults, military bases, research facilities, and so on and so forth. However, they may also have scripts attached, giving them functionality.
For example, Vault 13 library terminals can be used to gain experience through research, while terminals in the Mariposa Military Base can be used to manipulate forcefields, robots, and set the base to self destruct. The terminals in Fallout and Fallout 2 can be used with the Science skill if it's high enough, providing one of the only practical applications for the skill. In a particularly complex example, in Fallout it is also possible to exploit back doors in computers to gain access, such as playing a game of 21.
From Fallout 3 onwards, the role of terminals has been greatly expanded, making the Science skill and scientific perks more valuable. Terminals control doors, turrets, and safes, contain holotapes and recordings, and are frequently used in quests. Their role has been further expanded in Fallout 4, where terminals are extensively used in settlements to control defenses, manufacturing machines, lights, manage settlers, and so on and so forth.
Like before, terminals can also offer additional scripted interactions. These include launching an ICBM in Fort Constantine, initiating a tactical nuclear strike at SatCom Array NW-05a, modifying hologram defense settings at the Sierra Madre, and so on and so forth. Other unique functions include riddles (e.g. Jiggs' Loot), text adventures (e.g. Reign of Grelok), quizzes (e.g. National Archives historical quizzes), using US Government Supply Requisitions into them to spawn a Government Aid Drop from a Cargobot, and more.
Most terminals are secured. To access them, a user needs a password. Computer security was always second to convenience and many users noted their passwords down on pieces of paper, recorded on holotapes, or stored on other terminals. They can also have a high enough Science skill or Hacker perk rank to hack them or an encryption key. Sometimes terminals have options that cannot be used until the correct encryption key is present.
Controlling defense systems
Once the player character has access, they can perform a variety of actions. Each game lets the player character access and alter the settings of security systems and attached turrets. Fallout 3 and New Vegas also feature terminals that control turret targeting: if targeting is disabled, the turret will shoot at everyone within range, not just the player character.
In each game, there are more specialized versions of this. For example, in Fallout 3 in the robot repair center there is a terminal that can set off a pulse explosion disabling every robot in the area. There is also one in Fort Constantine that launches the fort's ICBM if the player character has the Fort Constantine launch codes. There is also one in SatCom Array NW-05a that allows the player character to launch a nuclear strike from the Highwater Trousers orbital weapons platform.
In addition, all games but in particular Fallout 3 and Fallout 4 feature terminals that can be used to open a protectron holding container, gaining a potential ally for upcoming firefights. Fallout 4 also lets the player character install different personalities into the protectron, which changes its dialogue and behavior. In addition, terminals can be built at settlements in Workshop mode, as long as the player character has at least one rank in the Hacker perk. These terminals can then be connected to other electrical objects such as lights and speakers to provide additional control options.
Opening doors and safes
Terminals are commonly used to open safes, giving an alternative to lockpicking. To get maximum XP, one can hack the terminal first, but exit without unlocking the item, and then lockpick it in order to gain XP for both hacking and lockpicking. If it is lockpicked first, the terminal is then broken and cannot be hacked. Terminals are also sometimes used to unlock or open doors.
- Stationary: These have three monitors mounted on top of a large console and a hardware box wired to the local power grid and network. They were found in military installations and Vaults. Water purification computers with water chips that control the purification process for Vault-Tec Vaults, Machines could also be used for controlling force fields.
- Rigged: Desktop terminals can be rigged with a grenade to explode when keys are pressed. Activating this terminal will cause it to first electrify and then explode after a brief delay. These are identical in appearance to other desktops, with the sole difference being a rotating antenna protruding from the back of the case and a damaged rear cover. An Explosives skill of at least 45 (60 if playing Fallout: New Vegas) is required to disarm this trap in return for a single frag grenade and an experience reward. To disarm, the rear panel of the terminal needs to be activated.
- Suspicious: Can be found at H&H Tools factory on the top floor. They are equipped with "Hidden Network Drives" that can be accessed through the player character's Pip-Boy.
- Institute: Manufactured using Institute technology, the terminal is available in both desktop and wall-mounted variants. These appear inside the Institute and select other areas such as Fort Hagen.
- Improvised: Mixes in parts from typewriters and a dozen other sources to create a terminal that is functional. Can be crafted at any settlements the player character has ownership over.
- Alien: There are terminals scattered around the alien ship Zeta, in the Mothership Zeta add-on. They are used by the aliens for security purposes. Can be rigged to explode with a delayed time fuse or as a proximity charge with a Science check (difficulty varies from terminal to terminal, in the 25 to 75 range), or destroyed with regular firearms.
- Desktop: One type of terminal is the RIT-V300, a standalone machine with a large green display, alphanumeric keyboard, four function keys and two knobs for regulating the monitor display. Internally, they are typically powered by 64 kilobytes of RAM, although some models could go up to 256 kilobytes. The RIT-V300 was spun off into many variants, with some less intelligent by design, simply providing an interface for a bigger machine, and others designed to incorporate an internal drive, memory, processor, and other hardware, turning them into personal desktop computers. RobCo Industries was at the forefront of personal computing. Some terminals also had dictation capabilities. Fans cooling the full metal case tended to suck in hair and other debris, increasing heat retention and potential damage through overheating. Models include:
- RobCo Model NX-12: A terminal capable of running text-games only.
- RobCo Model E-330: Billed as the "most reliable client terminal ever developed", the E-330 was designed for interacting directly with RobCo-brand mainframes.
- Robco Model E-601: A streamlined terminal outfitted with RobCo's business suite, marketed at executives. Each came loaded with a calendar software, contacts manager, and a messaging system. All three were hooked into a Daily Itinerary program, which generated itineraries based on the calendar contents and messages received. The messages system was particularly sophisticated, as it automatically timestamped, branded, and added read receipt requests to each message sent out. Additional functions could be installed by RobCo technicians, such as notifications systems.
- Robco Model RX-6550: A personalized home computer for the entire family, allowing each member to keep track of activities and tasks. Privacy was ensured through multiple password-protected user accounts.
- RobCo Model RX-9000: The most advanced gaming terminal on the market, featuring an upgraded processor and cutting-edge graphics for the latest holotape games.
Behind the scenes
- Misspelled words occur multiple times across Fallout 3, New Vegas and 4. Average-difficulty Consoles in New Vegas contain at least two of the few misspellings, that being "LEUTENANT," instead of the correct "Lieutenant" and "CONQUORER" instead of the correct "Conqueror". The word Lieutenant is also misspelled again in Fallout 4, once more appearing as "LEUTENANT" upon Expert-difficulty terminals. Deliberately misspelling words is one method of creating a stronger but easy-to-remember password.
- In Fallout 4, "GURPS" can appear as a possible password. This is a reference to the Generic Universal Role Playing System, which was planned to be used in the original Fallout but was replaced by the SPECIAL system.
- Terminal commands
- Missile silo terminal entries; Facilities mainframe
- Sunset Sarsaparilla headquarters terminal entries; Shipping terminal; Check message
- RobCo Sales & Service Center terminal entries#Henrietta Blanche
- RobCo Sales & Service Center terminal entries#Calvin Crenshaw
- RobCo Sales & Service Center terminal entries#RobCo E-330 terminal
- RobCo Sales & Service Center terminal entries#RobCo E-601 terminal
- RobCo Sales & Service Center terminal entries#Bronwyn Sullivan
- RobCo Sales & Service Center terminal entries#RobCo RX-6550 terminal
- RobCo Sales & Service Center terminal entries#RobCo RX-9000 terminal