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Computer Acronyms Archive of Computer Acronyms

Archive of Computer Acronyms, Terms and Abbreviations

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Active Matrix Display - Active matrix (also known as thin film transistor or TFT) is a technology used in the flat panel liquid crystal displays of notebook and laptop computers. Active matrix displays provide a more responsive image at a wider range of viewing angle than dual scan (passive matrix) displays.

AC - Acronym "Alternating Current" The voltage of an AC power source can be easily changed by means of a power transformer. AC power is used for long distance distribution. - Contributed by Eagle

ARPA - Acronym "Advanced Research Projects Agency"

Avatar - A graphical representation of a person in a chat room. The word comes from Hindu mythology in which spirits come down and inhabit bodies.

AGP - Acronym "Accelerated Graphics port" is an interface specification that enables 3-D graphics to display quickly on ordinary personal computers - Contributed by Eagle

AHA - Acronym "Accelerated Hub Architecture" - Contributed by Eagle

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Backbone - A network through which other, smaller networks are connected.

Bandwidth - Describes the capacity at which a given communications channel, such as ordinary copper telephone line, can transfer information; increasing bandwidth increases the speed at which data transfer takes place. The greater the bandwidth, the greater amount of data can be transferred.

BIOS - Basic Input Output System. This is the basic set of instructions that tell the computer how to act. Most computers have these instructions built into a chip that plugs into the motherboard.

Bit - Short for binary digit; either a 1 or a 0; the smallest unit into which digital information may be broken.

BPS - Bits per Second A measure of the speed of data transmission; the number of bits of data that can be transmitted each second. Modems are generally measured by their BPS rate (14.4K - 14400 BPS, 28.8K - 28800 BPS)

Boot up - The process of turning on the computer, which includes a number of functions that are performed automatically every time the power switch is turned on.

Browser - A client software program used to search networks, retrieve copies of files and display them in an easy-to-read, often graphical, format. Browsers such as SPRY Mosaic, Netscape Navigator, and Microsoft Internet Explorer are used to access information on the World Wide Web.

BBS - Acronym "Bulletin Board System" A computer system to which other computers can connect so their users can read and leave messages, or retrieve and leave files.

Byte - There is Eight Bits in a Byte

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CPU - Acronym "Central Processing Unit" Is an older term for processor and microprocessor, the central unit in a computer containing the logic circuitry that performs the instructions of a computer's programs - Contributed by Eagle

CMOS - Acronym "Complimentary Metal Oxide Semiconductor" A CMOS computer circuit consumes very little power and is used in computers to keep track of the system setup information, data, time, type of disk and hard drives, etc. that a computer has installed. The CMOS information is powered by the computer's on-board battery. So if the on-board battery fails, the information in CMOS is lost.

Compressed File - Computer files that have been reduced in size by a compression program. Such programs are available for all computer systems.

Crash - An unexpected shutdown either of a program or the whole system.; sometimes traumatic, always frustrating ; often fixable by turning off the computer and turning it back on; results in losing any unsaved work. Can also be used in instances of a hard disk physically being damaged.

Cyberspace - A term coined by author William Gibson. It describes the imaginary space in which computer users travel when "surfing" the Internet.

CRT - Acronym "Cathode Ray Tube" A cathode ray tube (CRT) is a specialized vacuum tube in which images are produced when an electron beam strikes a phosphorescent surface. Most desktop computer displays make use of CRTs. The CRT in a computer display is similar to the "picture tube" in a television. - Contributed by Eagle

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DARPA - Acronym "US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (now ARPA)" One of the bodies which `created' the concept of the Internet and funded the development of Internet facilities for many years.

Digital - Terms used to describe any information that has been translated into a corresponding series of 1s and 0s; any information - text, sound, image, color, may be digitized.

Discussion Board - A forum on a Web site for the discussion of a specific topic or set of related topics.

Disk Cache - A disk cache is a mechanism for improving the time it takes to read from or write to a hard disk - Contributed by Eagle

Domain Names - A name given to a host computer on the Internet. E-mail names are good examples of domain names (i.e.,

Dot - Short for the "period" usually heard in a reference to a url -- ""

Download - The process of transferring information from one computer to another, usually from a server to a client. You download a file from another computer to yours.

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Electronic Commerce - The transacting of business electronically rather than via paper.

E-mail - Abreviation "Electronic Mail" sending typed messages from one computer to another, over a network or the Internet.

Emoticon - Emoticons, or smileys :-) , are used to convey emotion. The expressions and inflections of voice we use to convey emotion, irony, sarcasm, etc. when talking are lost when communicating over the Internet. To make up for that, a system of symbols has developed which uses common keyboard marks.

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FAQ - Acronym "Frequently Asked Question". This is often a file which new users can refer to when using a new service or piece of Internet software. It contains answers to frequently asked questions, hence the name.

FTP - Acronym "File Transfer Protocol" A service for moving an electronic file of any type from one computer to another over the Internet.

Flame Mail - An excessively angry or rancorous message, generally containing personal insults, sent through e-mail.

Flamer - Someone who writes flame mail. Flamee should be obvious.

Floppy Disk - A removable storage medium that is used in conjunction with a floppy drive, usually 5.25-inch or 3.5-inch in size.

Forum - The dedicated area where people come together to discuss issues, hobbies, or news. Also called newsgroups.

Freeware - Software provided free by its originator

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Google - A popular search engine used to index the web.

GB - Acronym "Gigabyte" 1,000 Megabytes. A measure storage space. Hard Drives are measured in GB capacity.

GIF - Acronym "Graphic Interchange Format" One of two popular systems used to compress the size of image files so they require less bandwidth to transfer on the Web.

GUI - Acronym "Graphical User Interface" Examples are Windows and Apple's Macintosh operating system. The concept originated in the early 1970s at Xerox's PARC laboratory.

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HD - Acronym "Hard Disk" The rigid storage medium located within a hard drive; the relatively large storage area where a computer's operating system, applications, and data usually reside.

Home Page - The opening page of a World Wide Web document, sometimes called the welcome page.

Host - A computer connected directly to the Internet. A service provider's computer is a host.

HTML - Acronym "HyperText Mark-up Language" which is used to format information so that it can be structured and made accessible to the World Wide Web (WWW). The language itself is a simplified derivative of SGML, a widely used standard developed in the mid 1980's. The technique employed is to encase the information in special markers (called tags) which tell the WWW applications how the text is to be interpreted.

HTTP - Acronym "Hypertext Transfer Protocol" The protocol that forms the basis of World Wide Web technology. HTTP is the set of rules governing the software that transports hyperlinked files along the Internet.

Hypergraphic - In a World Wide Web document, a graphic image coded to form a link to another file. As with hypertext, if you click on a hypergraphic, you will jump to the linked file.

Hyperlink - A code which contains an "address," which when clicked, will take you to that address.

Hypermedia - Like hypertext except that the concept is extended to multimedia objects such as graphics, video and audio.

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IDE - Acronym "Integrated Drive Electronics" An interface used mainly by hard drives and CD-ROM drives to connect to the computer.

Internet - A collection of networks linked together using a common protocol. The global computer network achieved through the interconnection of smaller computer networks around the world.

IP - Acronym "Internet Protocol" The standard protocol used by systems communicating across the Internet.

IP Address - A digital code that precisely locates a computer connected to the Internet.

IRC - Acronym "Internet Relay Chat" A software tool that makes it possible to hold real-time keyboard conversations online.

ISDN - Acronym "Integrated Services Digital Network" Large bandwidth telephone line. Allows you to transfer information quickly.

ISO - Acronym "International Organization for Standardization"

ISOC - Acronym "Internet Society"

ISP - Acronym "Internet Service Provider" Example, Shaw cable, Telus, AOL and many others - Contributed by Eagle

ITU - Acronym "International Telecommunication Union"

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J JAVA - Developed by Sun Microsystems mainly to enhance the "online experience" of the World Wide Web.

JPEG - Acronym "Joint Photographic Experts Group" A commonly used compression technique for graphics images on the Internet.

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K - Acronym "Kilobyte" = 1024 bytes a storage measurement used in file sizes and media.

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LAN - Acronym "Local Area Network" The regional server or servers your computer is connected to. These in turn are connected to other servers creating a network in your office, home, etc.

Local File - A file stored on the hard disk of your computer, as opposed to a file stored on an Internet server or some other remote computer

Lotus - Lotus Development Corporation the software company responsible for the Notes line of products.

Lurking - Reading chat, forum, newsgroup or listserv messages without responding to them.

LCD - Acronym "Liquid Crystal Display" Is the technology used for displays in notebook and other smaller computers. Like light-emitting diode (LED) and gas-plasma technologies, LCDs (liquid Cystal displays) allow displays to be much thinner than cathode ray tube (CRT) technology. LCDs consume much less power than LED and gas-display displays because they work on the principle of blocking light rather than emitting it.

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MAC - Short for "Macintosh"; the other type of personal computer, manufactured by Apple Computer

MB - Acronym "Megabyte" 1 million bytes. A measure of the quantity of data. A megabyte is a lot when you are talking about files containing simple text messages, but it's not much when you are talking about files containing video or photo's.

MIME - Acronym "Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions"

Mouse - A small, handheld device attached to a computer; when moved across any flat surface (such as a desk), it results in the movement of something on the computer screen called a cursor; includes one or more buttons that allow the user to select graphics or text onscreen.

MPEG - Acronym "Motion Picture Experts Group" A video file compression system used on the web.

MAN - Acronym "Metropolitan Area Network" - A metropolitan area network (MAN) is a network that interconnects users with computer resources in a geographic area or region larger than that covered by even a large local area network (LAN) but smaller than the area covered by a wide area network (WAN) - Contributed by Eagle

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Network - Two or more computers connected to one another for the transfer and sharing of information.

NIC - Acronym "Network interface card" Is a computer circuit board or card that is installed in a computer so that it can be connected to a network - Contributed by Eagle

Netiquette - Internet etiquette, the correct form of behavior to be used while working on the Internet and Usenet. It can be summed up as, "Don't waste computer resources and don't be rude."

Newbie - An individual new to the Internet. Used with both affection and malice--depending on whether you're being welcomed or being flamed.

Newsgroup - Open forums or electronic bulletin boards on the Internet, where readers can share information, ideas, tips, and opinions with each other.

NSF - Acronym "National Science Foundation"

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Online - Connected. You are online if you are working on your computer while it is connected to another computer. Your printer is online if it is connected to your computer and ready to accept data.

OS - Acronym "Operating System" The primary program running on a computer; started automatically when the computer is turned on; all other programs run within the operating system. Examples: DOS, Windows XP, UNIX, Linux, OS X(Mac).

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PC - Acronym "Personal Computer" Usually refers to what 's commonly known as an IBM-compatible computer

PDF - Acronym "Portable Document Format" A document format read by Adobe System's Acrobat viewer. This format is excellent for displaying instruction manuals and other large documents in a "web-ready" state.

PEM - Acronym "Privacy Enhanced Mail"

PCI - Acronym "Peripheral Component Interconnect" Is an interconnection system between a microprocessor and attached devices in which expansion slots are spaced closely for high speed operation. - Contributed by Eagle

Plug-in - A helper application that works within a browser. It adds more functionality to a browser commonly associated with the Netscape Navigator browser software.

Port - port refers to the hardware through which computer data is transmitted; the plugs on the back of your computer are ports. On the Internet, port often refers to a particular application. For instance, you might telnet to a particular port on a particular host. The port is actually an application.

Posting - A message sent to a newsgroup or the act of sending such a message.

Postmaster - The person at a host who is responsible for managing the mail system. If you need information about a user at a particular host, you can usually send e-mail to the postmaster at postmaster@hostname.

Protocol - A set of rules computer programmers apply when writing code for a specific software. Computers and networks interact according to standard protocols, which determine the behavior that each side of a network connection expects from the other side.

PTT - Acronym "Postal, Telegraph and Telephone"

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Query - A search question that has been asked in a manner the computer's database system can understand and use.

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RAM - Acronym "Random Access Memory" Is the place in a computer where the operating system, application programs, and data in current use are kept so that they can be quickly reached by the computer's processor Contributed by Eagle

Remote Computer - A computer located somewhere else along a network as, for example, the computer containing the online catalog of your local public library. Remote is a relative term, relative, that is, to the computer immediately at hand (the local computer). A remote computer can actually be located within the same room, or it can be halfway around the world.

ROM - Acronym "Read Only Memory" This memory is the core instructions for the computer, it generally cannot be altered (read only) and is burned into the chips making up the specific motherboard.

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SCSI - Acronym "Small Computer Systems Interface" A set of standards used by an input device to interface with the computer. SCSI systems can "daisy-chain" up to 7 seven devices to a single connection. In other words, one device can connect to other device, and to another until it connects to the computer. Because several devices can connect to one single input connection, each device must be properly terminated for the entire chain of devices to work.

Search Engine - A tool used which matches key words you enter with titles and descriptions on the Internet. It then displays the matches allowing you to easily locate a subject. Similar to a card catalog, but not as efficient. Common search engines are Webcrawler, Yahoo, Alta Vista, Infoseek, and Lycos.

Server - A computer or its software that "serves" other computers by administering network files and network operations. Three types of Internet servers are Web servers, e-mail servers, and Gopher servers.

Shareware - Software that is freely distributed, but the author expects payment from people who decide to keep and use it.

SIG - Acronym "Special Interest Group"

Signature - A short piece of text transmitted with an e-mail or newsgroup message. Some systems can attach text from a file to the end of a message automatically. Signature files contain detailed information on how to contact someone.

Smiley - A symbol in e-mail and newsgroup messages used to convey emotion, or simply amusement. Create smileys by typing various keyboard characters. For example, :-) means happiness. See also, Emoticon.

SMTP - Acronym "Simple Mail Transfer Protocol" One method a computer uses to send e-mail from one computer to another. Other methods include Multi-purpose Internet Mail Extensions (MIME) and Privacy Enhanced Mail (PEM).

SQL - Acronym "Structured Query Language" an official ANSI language for retrieving information from a database. Most database software providers add extensions. The "official" pronunciation is "sequel,"

Stream - Audio or video transfer of signals in digital form. It is then downloaded on your computer and played back using various tools.

STT - Acronym "Secure Transaction Technology" Technology developed by software companies and credit companies to protect financial dealings over the Internet and prevent fraud.

Surfing - The random, aimless exploration of web pages achieved through following links that look interesting within a document.

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T1 Line - A line connecting a computer to a high-speed, high-bandwidth, digital electronic communication carrier.

TCP/IP - Acronym "Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol" A set of protocols (communications rules) that control how data is transferred between computers on the Internet.

Telnet - An Internet protocol used for logging on to a remote computer, as well as the software that implements it. Telnet makes all Internet hosts appear to the user as if they use the same techniques for presenting information on screen and the same commands for performing tasks (such as typing and editing commands).

Threaded - Organized according to thread, or line of discussion, in a newsgroup or on a discussion board. A thread is a more or less continuous chain of postings on a single topic.

TWAIN - Acronym "Technology Without An Interesting Name" - is the interface used by a input device such as a scanner to import images (generally graphics) into the computer.

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UNIX - A computer operating system, popular with high-end computer users, academics and the research community. Most hosts connected to the Internet run UNIX.

Upload - The process of transferring information from one computer to another, generally from a client to a server. For example, you upload a file from your computer to another.

USB - Acronym "Universal Serial Bus" Is a plug-and-play interface between a computer and add-on devices (such as audio players, joysticks, keyboards, telephones, scanners, and printers).With USB, a new device can be added to your computer without having to add an adapter card - Contributed by Eagle

URL - Acronym "Universal Resource Locator" The specific path to a World Wide Web file, including filename and extension.

Usenet - The "user's network." A large network connected to the Internet. It contains Newsgroups or discussion areas on almost any topic available. Messages are posted publicly for all to see.

UPS - "Uninterruptible Power Supply" An uninterruptible power supply (UPS) is a device that allows your computer to keep running for at least a short time when the primary power source is lost.

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Virus - A program that uses various techniques for duplicating itself and traveling between computers. Viruses vary from harmless nuisances to serious problems that can cause millions of dollars' worth of damage. - See Interview with a Virus

VR - Acronym "Virtual Reality" A simulated three-dimensional environment, displayed in real time with interactive capabilities. VR applications have been developed for the World Wide Web, although the technology is still at an early stage.

VRML - Acronym "Virtual Reality Mark-up Language" Protocol language which allows 3-D representation of graphics. Chat rooms are increasingly using VRML to represent chatters graphically with avatars.

VPN - Acronym "Virtual Private Network" See What is a VPN

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WAN - Acronym "Wide Area Network" A larger computer network that is geographically dispersed, such as one that stretches across a university campus.

Web Page - A single screen (document) on a Web site.

Web Site - The location of published hypertext content. Physically, a Web site can occupy an entire Web server or a part of a server; or it can be spread out among different servers as long as its sections are all linked, directly or indirectly, to the same home page.

WWW - Acronym "World Wide Web" The WWW is a hypermedia retrieval system for information. The newest medium of the Internet. Based on hypertext, the Web provides a quick and easy method of delivering and receiving information files which are read by a browser. The Webs ability to transfer files containing not just text but also graphics, sound, and video makes it the most versatile of all the Internet services.

WYSIWYG - Acronym "What You See Is What You Get" Pronounced "wizziwig," it is a generic term meaning what you see on your screen is what is going to print out on your printer.

WLAN - Acronym "Wireless Local Area Network" In a wireless local area network (WLAN), an access point is a station that transmits and receives data (sometimes referred to as a transceiver).

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Yahoo - A popular search engine used to index the web.


Zine - Electronic magazines, published on the Internet.

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