Basically, Local Area Network or LAN is a computer network thats within a small geographical area, like school, laboratory, office building, a group of buildings, and even a home. LAN comprises inter-connected workstations and personal computers, each of which is capable of executing programs along with accessing and sharing data and devices like printers, scanners, and storage devices, anywhere on LAN.
This facility enables many users to share information and expensive devices, like laser printers. With LAN, users can easily communicate with each other using emails or through chat sessions.
Higher communication and data transfer rates are the main characteristics of LAN. It eliminates the need for leasing communication lines. One LAN can be connected to other LANs using telephone lines and radio waves. When a system of LANs is connected in this way, it is known as a WAN, or Wide Area Network.
The first LANs were used by large colleges and universities in the 1960s. The very first commercial use of LAN was by Chase Manhattan Bank in New York in 1977.
There are several different types of LANs. The most common for personal computers is Ethernets. Apple Macintosh networks are based on the AppleTalk network system which is inbuilt in Macintosh computers.