"Sneakernet", or the art of carrying software around on floppy disks, was the standard method of moving data around.Networking started to become more popular as businesses obtained multiple computers and they needed a way to communicate.
Later versions of DOS provided a similar function with INTERLNK and INTERSRV.
TCP/IP over the parallel port was also possible using a protocol called Parallel Line Internet Protocol (PLIP).
Back then people did not have home networks and networking equipment was much more expensive.
If people had any sort of connectivity it might have been to use a bulletin board system (BBS) through a dial-up modem or to talk to a Novell Netware server running on their local network.
Serial ports supported "hot plugging" (removing and connecting devices while running) while parallel ports did not, so swapping devices on a parallel port often required shutting the computer and the devices off.
A notable exception was Lap Link by Traveling Software.
This drove the cost of networking adapters and equipment down, which made it more affordable for home users.
The growth of DSL and cable modem devices in the early 2000s made home networks almost a requirement, if only to allow sharing the one connection point to the Internet.
Common devices used to connect computers Less common devices used to connect computers Software solutions for serial ports Software solutions for parallel ports Protocol suites for network adapters High level applications Miscellaneous notes From Wikipedia: "Sneakernet" is an informal term describing the transfer of electronic information, especially computer files, by physically moving removable media such as magnetic tape, floppy disks, compact discs, USB flash drives (thumb drives, USB stick), or external hard drives from one computer to another.
This is usually in lieu of transferring the information over a computer network.
Even the slowest DOS machines dating back to the early 1980s can do the following once networked: Almost every old machine can use floppy disks or the serial port for data transfer and for a machine that is rarely used that is all you need.