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Technology Terms

   A lexicon of technology terminology.


Select a range:


C A programming language developed at AT&T.
cache Sections of memory that hold data while the CPU (central processing unit) is working on it. Web browsers use a cache of temporary files to quickly reload content already accessed.
card A printed circuit board that adds some feature to a computer, such as a video or network card.
cartridge drive A storage device, like a hard drive, in which the medium is a cartridge that can be removed.
CD-ROM Compact Disc - Read Only Memory. It's a storage place that disallows recording or manipulating of its data.
CGA Stands for Color Graphics Adapter. It's a piece of hardware that plays with colors.
client A computer attached to an Internet server.
clipboard A portion of memory where the Mac temporarily stores information. Called a Copy Buffer in many PC applications because it is used to hold information which is to be moved, as in word processing where text is "cut" and then "pasted".
Clock Rate (MHz) The instruction processing speed of a computer measured in millions of cycles per second (i.e., 200 MHz).
COBOL Stands for Common Business Oriented Language.
COM Stands for Component Object Module.
command The act of giving an instruction to your computer either by menu choice or keystroke.
compiler A program the converts programming code into a form that can be used by a computer.
compression A technique that reduces the size of a saved file by elimination or encoding redundancies (i.e., JPEG, MPEG, LZW, etc.)
control key Ctl on the keyboard. Used for windows keyboard shortcuts. Seldom used modifier key on the Mac.
control panel A program that allows you to change settings in a program or change the way a computer looks and/or behaves.
CPU The Central Processing Unit. The processing chip that is the "brains" of a computer.
crash A system malfunction in which the computer stops working and has to be restarted.
CSS Stands for Cascading Style Sheets.
cursor The pointer, usually arrow or cross shaped, which is controlled by the mouse.
cyberspace This is a term that gives us a way to sort of "see" what we are surfing while on the Net. It's a generic term for the entire Internet, not just the World Wide Web.
daisy chaining The act of stringing devices together in a series (such as SCSI).
data The plural of datum. Information processed by a computer.
data rate Speed that information moves from one item to another. This is usually in the form of bits.
database An electronic list of information that can be sorted and/or searched.
DDS Stands for Direct Digital Signal.
dedicated line This is a phone line meant specifically for one thing, like being attached to a computer.
defragment Concatenate fragments of data into contiguous blocks in memory or on a hard drive to optimize performance.
demodulation This is the process of converting analog information (like over phone lines) into digital information (like in a computer). See "Modem".
desktop The shaded or colored backdrop of the screen.
DHTML Stands for Dynamic HTML.
dialog box An on-screen message box that appears when the Mac requires additional information before completing a command.
dial-up line This is a telephone line that is connected to a server. When it is called, tones are exchanged between the server and the devise calling in order to attach.
digital Digital information is represented as a series of 1s and 0s--the language computers use. A CD player is digital. A traditional phone line is not, so its data must be converted for the computer to use it.
digitize To convert linear, or analog, data into digital data which can be used by the computer.
disk A spinning platter made of magnetic or optically etched material on which data can be stored.
disk drive The machinery that writes the data from a disk and/or writes data to a disk.
DNS Domain Name System. The Internet runs by assigning different Names to a 4-part number (IP address). The domain name is easier to remember, and multiple names can be given to a single IP address.
document A file you create, as opposed to the application which created it.
domain This is a higher level section of the Internet, usually given its own DNS. The domain is the section of an address before the directory slashes start. "" is my domain. Click here if you want one of your own!
DOS Disc Operating System. It is a generic term for the many programs that accept commands to trip applications to run. The most popular is MS-DOS (MS stands for Microsoft).
download To transfer data from one computer to another. (If you are on the receiving end, you are downloading. If you are on the sending end, you are uploading ).
DPI Acronym for Dots Per Inch - a gauge of visual clarity on the printed page or on the computer screen.
drag To move the mouse while its button is being depressed.
drag and drop A feature on the computer which allows one to drag an item onto another.
driver A file on a computer which tells it how to communicate with an add-on piece of equipment (like a printer).
dumb terminal This a video screen that is seeing manipulation in another computer. It's a terminal, but it's just watching -- thus a dumb terminal.