Computer Terminology

ASCII – (American Standard Code for Information Interchange) – This is the world-wide standard for the code numbers used by computers to represent all the upper and lower-case Latin letters, numbers, punctuation, etc. There are 128 standard ASCII codes each of which can be represented by a 7 digit binary number: 0000000 through 1111111.

BAUD – Baud is the number of times per second that the carrier signal shifts value – for example a 1200 bit-per-second modem actually runs at 300 baud, but it moves 4 bits per baud (4 x 300 = 1200 bits per second). The baud rate of a modem is how many bits it can send or receive per second.

BBS – (Bulletin Board System) — A computerized meeting and announcement system that allows people to carry on discussions, upload and download files, and make announcements without the people being connected to the computer at the same time.

BIT – (Binary DigIT) — A single digit number in base-2, in other words, either a 1 or a zero. The smallest unit of computerized data. Bandwidth is usually measured in bits-per-second.

BPS – (Bits-Per-Second) — A measurement of how fast data is moved from one place to another. A 28.8 modem can move 28,800 bits per second.

BYTE – A set of Bits that represent a single character. Usually there are 8 Bits in a Byte, sometimes more, depending on how the measurement is being made.

ETHERNET – A very common method of networking computers in a LAN. Ethernet will handle about 10,000,000 bits-per-second and can be used with almost any kind of computer.

FIRE WALL – A combination of hardware and software that separates a LAN into two or more parts for security purposes.

FTP – (File Transfer Protocol) — A very common method of moving files between two Internet sites. FTP is a special way to login to another Internet site for the purposes of retrieving and/or sending files.

GIF – (Graphic Interchange Format) — A common format for image files, especially suitable for images containing large areas of the same color. GIF format files are often smaller than JPEG format, but GIF format does not store photographic images as well as JPEG.

GIGABYTE – 1000 or 1024 Megabytes.

HOST – Any computer on a network that is a repository for services available to other computers on the network.

HTML – (Hypertext Markup Language) — The coding language used to create hypertext documents for use on the Internet. HTML looks a lot like old-fashioned typesetting code, where you surround a block of text with codes that indicate how it should appear.

HTTP – (Hypertext Transport Protocol) — The protocol for moving hypertext files across the internet which requires an HTTP client program on one end, and an http server program on the other end.

HYPERTEXT – Generally, any text that contains links to other documents.

INTERNET – The vast collection of inter-connected networks that use the TCP/IP protocols that evolved from the ARPANET of the late 60’s and early 70’s. The Internet connects thousands of independent networks into a vast global Internet.

INTRANET – A private website on a network inside a company or organization for internal use only.

JPEG – (Joint Photographic Experts Group) — JPEG is commonly used as a format for image files. JPEG format is preferred to the GIF format for photographic images as opposed to line art or simple logo art.

KILOBYTE – A thousand bytes. Actually, usually 1024 (2^10) bytes.

LAN – (Local Area Network) — A computer network limited to the immediate area, usually the same building or floor of a building.

MEGABYTE – A million bytes. Actually, technically, 1024 kilobytes.

MODEM – (MOdulator, DEModulator) — A device that you connect to your computer and to a phone line, that allows the computer to talk to other computers through the phone system. Basically, modems do for computers what a telephone does for humans.

PASSWORD – A code used to gain access to a locked system. Good passwords contain letters and numbers as well as other characters.

PLUG-IN – A small piece of software that adds features to a larger piece of software.

SQL – (Structured Query Language) — A specialized programming language for sending queries to databases.

TERABYTE – 1000 gigabytes.

URL – (Uniform Resource Locator) — The standard way to give the address of any resource on the Internet that is part of the World Wide Web (WWW). A URL looks like this:

WAN – (Wide Area Network) — Any internet or network that covers an area larger than a single building or campus.