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close this book Information and Computer Technology Fact Sheets
View the document No. 1 Introduction and Contents
View the document No. 2 Glossary of Frequently Used Computer Terms
View the document No. 3 Computer Hardware Components
View the document No. 4 Peripherals for Computers
View the document No. 5 Computer-Based Communications
View the document No. 6 Internet Primer
View the document No. 7 Navigating the Internet
View the document No. 8 Fidonet
View the document No. 9 CD-ROM
View the document No. 10 Desktop Publishing
View the document No. 11 Operating Systems
View the document No. 12 Microprocessors
View the document No. 13 Local Area Networks
View the document No. 14 Monitors
View the document No. 15 MODEMS
View the document No. 16 Netiquette
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No. 2 Glossary of Frequently Used Computer Terms

ADDRESS BUS

An internal electronic channel from the microprocessor to the RAM, along which the addresses of memory storage locations are transmitted. (See TFS, No. 12)

 

APPLICATION PROGRAM INTERFACES

System software that provides resources on which programmers can draw to create user interface features, such as pull-down menus and windows, and to route programs or data to local area networks. (See TFS, No.11)

 

ASCII

American Standard Code for Information Exchange. Computers process only numerical information. ASCII is a system in which letters of the alphabet, punctuation marks, and other symbols are represented by numbers.

 

BACKUP

An extra copy of software, either the application itself or the work created by using the application.

 

BASEBAND

Communication method in which the information-bearing signal is placed directly on the cable in digital form without modulation. (See TFS, No. 13)

 

BATCH FILE

A series of individual commands that have been automated so that the user can execute the entire series by executing a single command.

 

BAUD RATE

The transmission speed of an asynchronous communications channel. Technically, it refers to the maximum number of changes that can occur per second in the electrical state of a communications circuit. Often baud is used interchangeably with bits per second, although this is not correct. (See TFS, No. 4)

 

BIOS

Basic input/output system. A set of programs encoded in read-only memory on IBM-compatible computers. The programs facilitate the transfer of data and control instructions between the computer and peripherals, such as disk drives. (See TFS, No. 11)

 

BIT/BYTE

All computer data is composed of tiny electrical pulses called Bits (short for binary digits). Each pulse represents a single digit of data. A group of eight bits is called a BYTE. Bytes are measured in units of a thousand, thus kilobyte.

 

BIT MAP

The representation of a video image stored in the computer's memory. Each pixel is controlled by an on or off code stored as a bit in the computer's memory. Bit-mapped images consume large amounts of memory. (See TFS, No. 14)

 

BRIDGE

A device that enables two networks to exchange data. (See TFS, No. 13)

 

BROADBAND

A broadband network uses analog transmissions. Because the microcomputer is a digital device, modems are required at either end of the transmission cable to convert the signal from digital

to analog and back again. Broadband networks can cover greater distances than baseband networks and can convey multiple channels at one time. A broadband network can handle both voice and data communications. (See TFS, No. 13)

 

BULLETIN BOARD

A system with a computer, modem, and phone line that acts as a central point for information exchange. It can be used for electronic mail and for storing files that can be downloaded.(See TFS, No. 8)

 

BUS

An internal pathway along which signals are sent from one part of the computer to another. The data bus sends data back and forth between the memory and the microprocessor. The address bus identifies which memory location will come into play. The control bus carries the control unit's signals. (See TFS, No. 12)

 

BUS NETWORK

A decentralized LAN in which a single connecting line, the bus, is shared by a number of nodes, including workstations, shared peripherals, and file servers. (See TFS, No. 13)

 

CATHODE RAY TUBE (CRT)

An electronic vacuum tube containing a screen on which information is displayed. Most common monitors and all standard TV sets use CRTs. (See TFS, No. 14)

 

CCITT

Comite Consultatif International Telephonique et Telegraphique, an international organization that sets standards for analog and digital communications that involve modems, computer networks, and fax machines. (See TFS, No. 15)

 

CD-ROM

Stands for compact disc/read-only memory. A high density storage medium on which electronic data is etched and read by a laser beam. (See TFS, No. 9)

 

CENTRAL PROCESSING UNIT (CPU)

The hardware component that doe s the computer processing and operates the computer. (See TFS, No. 3)

 

CLOCK SPEED

The speed of the internal clock of a microprocessor that sets the pace at which operations proceed within the computer's internal processing circuitry. (See TFS, No. 12)

 

COLOR GRAPHICS ADAPTER (CGA)

A low to medium-resolution color graph ic system for personal computers. It is a bit-mapped adapter that displays either four colors simultaneously with a resolution of 200 pixels horizontally and 320 lines vertically or ONE color with a resolution of 620 pixels horizontally and 200 lines vertically. (See TFS, No.14)

 

COMPUTER CONFERENCE

A form of computer-based communications that emulates a face-to- face conference where people meet to discuss issues of common concern. Computer conferences include a "messaging" module to simulate the private discussions that often take place at meetings but they also permit communication among multiple users and allow flexible treatment of conference comments. (See TFS, No. 5)

 

DATA BUS

Internal electronic pathway that allows the microprocessor to exchange data with the RAM. (See TFS, No. 12)

 

DATA COMPRESSION PROTOCOL

A standard fo r automatically compressing data when it is sent and decompressing it when it is received. (See TFS, No. 15)

 

DATABASE MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS (DBMS)

Databases are organized collections of information. They are used to file, search, and retrieve data.

 

DESKTOP PUBLISHING (DTP)

Publishing by means of a personal computer. DTP is the product of technological advances in personal computing, print graphics, and computer-generated typography. It synthesizes the

capabilities of typesetting, graphic design, book production, and platemaking in one integrated, cost effective hardware and software configuration. (See TFS, No. 10)

 

DISPLAY ADAPTER

A device that makes the text and graphics visible on the monitor. It usually takes the form of an enhancement board that snaps into one of the expansion slots inside the CPU. The display adapter and monitor work together to translate the applications and data into something the monitor can use and we can see. (See TFS, No. 14)

 

ELECTRONIC MAIL

Computer-based messaging. The transmission of letters and messages from computer to computer over a network. (See TFS, Nos. 5, 6, and 8)

 

ENHANCED GRAPHICS ADAPTER (EGA)

A medium-resolution color system for personal computers. It is a bit-mapped adapter for IBMs and compatibles that displays up to 16 colors simultaneously with a resolution of 640 pixels horizontally and 350 lines vertically. (See TFS, No. 14)

 

ERROR CONTROL PROTOCOL

Also called error correction protocol, this is a method for filtering out telephone line interference and repeating transmissions automatically until the message is correctly and completely transmitted. (See TFS, No. 15)

 

FIDONET

A network of more than 15,000 individual computerized bulletin board services. (See TFS, No. 8)

 

FILE SERVER

A high-performance personal computer that serves all the users of a local area network. It provides access to files and software. (See TFS, No. 13)

 

FLOPPY DISK

A magnetic storage medium. The floppy disk is compact, light, and portable. You can input or output data or software applications between a floppy disk and the computer. (See TFS, No. 3)

 

FTP

File Transfer Protocol. Allows users to exchange files between their workstations and remote computers connected to the Internet. It is most useful for retrieving files from public archives that are scattered around the Internet. (See TFS, No. 7)

 

GATEWAY

A device that connects two dissimilar LANs or that connects a LAN to a WAN, a server, or a mainframe. It reformats the data so that it is acceptable for the new network before passing it on.

 

GRAPHICAL USER INTERFACE (GUI)

Applications in which commands and other elements are represented by little pictures or symbols, often called icons. Many consider the pictures easier to understand and use than words.

 

HARD DISK

A hardware component used for storing software, applications, and data. It has a higher capacity and faster speed than a floppy. Hard disks are sealed units not usually meant be removed from the computer. (See TFS, No. 3)

 

HARDWARE

The central processing unit, monitor, keyboard, mouse, printer, and other equipment associated with a computer system. (See TFS, No. 3)

 

ICON

A symbol on a computer that represents a program or data file or some other computer function. (A trash can may symbolize the area in which deleted documents reside until the user exits the

systems and permanently deletes the files.)

 

INPUT DEVICE

A hardware component -- keyboard or mouse, for example, -- that is used to give the computer its instructions and to enter information into the computer. (See TFS, No. 3)

 

INTERACTIVE

Used to refer to applications that engage the computer user by prompting for certain responses and then reacting to those responses in what seems like original ways.

 

INTERNET

A system of interconnected computer networks. Provides access to computers, electronic mail, bulletin boards, databases, and discussion groups, all using the TCP/IP protocol. (See TFS, Nos.

6 and 7)

 

LEASED LINE

A dedicated private telephone line between two locations. Leased lines are often used to connect mid-sized local networks to an Internet service provider and are mostly used for corporate

communications. (See TFS, No. 6)

 

LIQUID CRYSTAL DISPLAY (LCD)

A type of monitor used in laptop computers. a low-power display technology that uses rod-shaped crystal molecules that change their orientation when an electrical current flows through them. LCD displays are flat and draw little power but they are not very bright. (See TFS, No. 14.)

 

LOCAL-AREA NETWORK (LAN)

A method of connecting computers, peripherals, and communications equipment within a restricted locality, such as a building or campus. (See TFS, No. 13)

 

MEGAHERTZ (MHz)

A unit of measurement, equal to one million electrical vibrations or cycles per second, commonly used to measure the clock speeds of computers. (See TFS, No. 12)

 

MENU

A selection of commands in an application or a list of items in a database.

 

MICROPROCESSOR

Hardware component responsible for the basic elements of computer processing: arithmetic, logic, and control. The microprocessor is an integrated circuit chip -- a dense network of microscopic electrical pathways etched into highly refined sand, or silicon. (See TFS, Nos. 3 and 12)

 

MODEM

A device that connects a computer to a telephone line and converts the digital data from the computer into analog (sound) frequencies. The modem sends the sounds through the phone line

to a receiving computer's modem, which then turns the sounds back into a digital form that can be displayed on the receiving computer's screen. (MODEM is a contraction of modulator/demodulator.) (See TFS, Nos. 4 and 15)

 

MONITOR

The video display terminal (VDT); the part of the personal computer system that looks like a TV screen. It allows the user to see text and graphics as it is entered into the computer. (See TFS, No. 14)

 

MONOCHROME DISPLAY ADAPTER (MDA)

A single-color display adapter for IBM computers that displays text, but not graphics with a resolution of 720 pixels horizontally and 350 lines vertically. An example of an MDA is the Hercules Graphics Adapter. (See TFS, No. 14)

 

MOUSE

A small input device that augments a keyboard. (See TFS, No. 3)

 

MS-DOS

An operating system for microcomputers. Short for Microsoft disk operating system, DOS has been perhaps the most common set of programs for controlling the microcomputer. (See TFS, No. 11)

 

MULTITASKING

The execution of more than one program at a time on a computer system. Should not be confused with multiple program loading, in which two programs are present in RAM but only one program executes at a time. (See TFS, No. 11)

 

NETIQUETTE

Short for "network etiquette". Use of most networks is a privilege for which users are asked to conform to certain policies and procedures. This code of conduct, often implied and learned only through experience, is called netiquette. (See TFS, No. 16)

 

NETWORK

Individual computers linked in such a way that users can share software and hardware (for example, printers) and communicate with each other. (See TFS, No. 13)

 

ONLINE

The "state" of being connected, either via a modem or a dedicated line, to a distant database or to another computer.

 

OPERATING SYSTEMS

The master program that controls the computer hardware and applications. Also called the system software. (See TFS, No. 11)

 

OS/2

This is a multi-tasking (the execution of more than one program at a time) operating system for microcomputers and workstations. (See TFS, No. 11)

 

PACKET

A "bundle" of data. In some types of electronic communications, data is broken into small chunks that traverse the networks independently. (See TFS, Nos 6 and 8)

 

PACKET-SWITCHING NETWORK

A wide-area network that achieves high data transmission speeds by dividing information into sections, called packets. The packets are then transmitted by the most efficient route and reassembled at their destination. (See TFS, No. 6)

 

PCMCIA

Personal Computer Memory Card International Association. Many notebook computers have a receptacle in the back that is designed to accept plugs conforming to PCMCIA standards. These slots can be used to plug-in peripherals such as modems or memory expansion cards. (See TFS, No. 15)

 

PEER-TO-PEER NETWORK

A LAN without a central file server and in which all the computers in the network have access to the public files of all the other workstations.

 

PERIPHERALS

Hardware components that are not essential to the basic operation of the computer but that may be necessary to perform certain applications. Peripheral hardware includes printers, scanners, and modems. (See TFS, No. 4)

 

PIXEL

Short for picture element. The computer monitor is divided into rows and columns, forming hundreds of cells. Each cell is a single pixel: the smallest unit that can be manipulated by programmers and users. (See TFS, No. 14)

 

PLASMA DISPLAY

A type of monitor used in laptop computers. The display is produced by energizing an ionized gas held between two transparent panels. (See TFS, No. 14)

 

RANDOM ACCESS MEMORY (RAM)

The computer's short-term memory or the electronic "work space" in which software, programs, and data reside while they are active. (See TFS, No. 3)

 

RESOLUTION

A measurement, usually expressed in linear dots per inch (dpi), of the sharpness of an image generated by an output device such as a printer or monitor. (See TFS, No. 14)

 

RING NETWORK

A decentralized LAN in which a number of nodes are arranged around a closed loop cable. (See TFS, No. 13)

 

ROUTER

A device that connects networks that use the same protocols together and passes information among them. (See TFS, No. 6)

 

SCANNER

Hardware device that allows the transfer of photographs, graphic images, or text to the computer. Scanners convert the image to a form than can be manipulated and stored by the computer. (See TFS, No. 4)

 

SOFTWARE

The applications, data, and operating systems associated with computer systems.

 

SMILEYS

A sideways face created out of ASCII characters that is used in electronic mail messages to substitute for the nonverbal cues one gets in interpersonal communication. (See TFS, No. 16)

 

SPREADSHEETS

An electronic means of organizing, storing, and presenting numeric information in formats that allow for easy calculations. The most common means of handling numeric information.

 

STAR NETWORK

A centralized network with a physical layout that resembles a star. (See TFS, No. 13)

 

TELNET

The Internet standard protocol for remote terminal connection service used for logging into and searching other computers connected to the Internet. It allows your computer to interact with a remote timesharing system at another site as if your terminal were connected directly to the remote computer. (See TFS, No. 7)

 

TOKEN-RING NETWORK

A network architecture where all nodes are connected to the same circuitry, which takes the form of a continuous loop. (See TFS, No. 13)

 

TOPOLOGY

A method for interconnecting individual workstations in a local area network. Three popular topologies are bus, star, and ring. (See TFS, No. 13)

 

TWISTED PAIR CABLE

A low bandwidth connecting cable used in telephone systems. The cable has two insulated wires that are wrapped around each other to minimize interference from other wires. (See TFS, No 13.)

 

UNINTERRUPTIBLE POWER SUPPLY (UPS)

Device that insures a steady and clean supply of electricity to the computer. A sudden loss of or change in power can destroy data and cause damage to a computer. UPSs give the user time to

exit from all active applications and save all current data in the event of a power outage. (See TFS, No. 4)

 

UNIX

An operating system for a wide variety of computers, from mainframes to personal computers. It supports multi-tasking and is suited to multi-user environments. (See TFS, No. 11)

 

VIDEO GRAPHICS ARRAY (VGA)

An analog monitor that displays as many as 256 colors simultaneously, with a resolution of 640 pixels horizontally and 480 lines vertically. (See TFS, No. 14)

 

VIRUS

A program designed to enter a computer without the user's knowledge and perform tasks that can be destructive to the data and software stored in the computer.

 

WIDE-AREA NETWORK (WAN)

A method of connecting computers, peripherals, and communications equipment within a very large area. WANs can connect computers from organizations all over the world.

 

WINDOW

A rectangular, on-screen frame through which you can view a document, worksheet, or other application.

 

WINDOWS

A windowing environment and application program interface for MS-DOS that brings to IBM compatible computers some of the graphical user interface features of the Macintosh computers. (See TFS, No. 11)

 

WORD PROCESSOR

The single most universal application for personal computers. Word processing programs convert computers into writing and editing machines. Word processing easily allows revisions, formatting, and corrections.

 

WYSIWYG

Pronounced wizzy-wig, an acronym for What You See is What You Get. A term used in desktop publishing that means that what you see on the computer screen is exactly what you get on paper when you print. (See TFS, No. 10)