abacus - One of the earliest known computational tools. This device uses movable counters to keep track of numbers. The movable counters often look like beads strung on rods inside a frame. It has been in use in Asia for thousands of years and is still used in everyday transactions throughout the Far East.
Ada Programming language - A programming language that was developed specifically for the U.S. Department of Defense (it was named for Ada Byron, who many consider to be the first programmer).
AI - (See artificial intelligence.)
algorithm - The sequence of steps that will form a programmed solution to a software-development problem. The sequence of programming steps is often expressed as a flowchart (an outline of the program using a set of geometric symbols) or as pseudocode ( a set of statements in English that map out the program plan).
alphanumeric display monitor - Also known as a character-mapped display monitor.) This type of monitor produces a standard set of characters on the screen by displaying pre-set patterns of dots.
ALU (See arithmetic logic unit.)
American Standard Code for Information Interchange (Also known as ASCII.)
analog - Refers to representations of information in a continuous manner (often in terms of magnitude). (Contrast with digital.)
analysis graphics - (Also known as business graphics.) Used to transform numerical data into a variety of charts, graphs, and diagrams that can be easily understood.
analytical engine - An early calculation device proposed by Cambridge University professor of mathematics Charles Babbage. The device proposed the use of punched cards and many other features that are used in modern computers.
animation program - Computer programs used to create and store graphics images that are delivered to the screen in sequences that simulate action. The images created on the computer can then be recorded on motion picture film or on videotape.
applications - (Also known as applications software.) Computer programs used to automate a user's tasks. These programs are used to automate tasks that were previously carried out by specially trained employees. Some of the most popular applications are programs used for word processing, record keeping, numerical spreadsheet-like analysis. desktop publishing, and graphic design.
arithmetic logic unit (ALU) - The part of the central processing unit (CPU) that performs arithmetic computations and logical operations.
arrow key - A key on a computer keyboard that moves an on-screen cursor the direction indicated by the arrow printed on that key.
artificial intelligence - (AI) Computer programs that utilize special programming routines that make decisions based on available evidence rather than on hard and fast rules. (See also expert systems.)
(American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII)) - One of the most widely used codes used in computers. In this code, the letters of the alphabet and other aspects of data are represented by a string of binary (off or on) representations.
assembler - A translation program used to convert the code words used in programs produced with an assembly language to the ls and 0s of machine language so that the program can be understood by the computer
assembly language - A type of programming language similar to machine language, except that abbreviations (use meaningful, English-like code words) are used instead of binary instructions. Code produced with an assembly language is written for a specific type of processing hardware and must be translated into machine language with an assembler before it can be understood by the computer.
asynchronous - One of two methods commonly used to transmit characters over a channel. The asynchronous transmission method is used to send one character at a time. Since the transmission is synchronized by sending a start bit and a stop bit, data can be sent at any time. (Contrast with the synchronous transmission method.)
authoring - system - A system that provides a way for those who are not professional programmers to create their own applications. Many of today's authoring systems are object-oriented; that is, they provide a set of objects which can be used as part of a screen display and to program responses to user input. (See also object-oriented authoring systems or OOA).
automatic recalculation - A feature of electronic spreadsheet programs wherein numerical relationships that are controlled by a formula on the worksheet are calculated as soon as data is entered.
backing up - The process of saving a second copy of data to a backup storage device.
band printer - (See chain printer.)
bar graph - A graphic representation of data that uses vertical bars to portray data relationships.
baseband - Communications networks are often categorized as either baseband or broadband. The difference lies in the speed of communications between stations on the network. Baseband networks are the slower of the two, usually using twisted-pair wire connections. (Contrast with broadband.)
batch processing - A data processing method in which sets of instructions are prepared ahead of time and fed to the computer in a sequenced list which are carried out one at a time. Once the program has been fed to the processing computer, there is no interaction between the user and the computer. (Contrast with interactive processing.)
beta testing - A process in which knowledgeable users are given a developmental version of a program so that they can find any programming errors before the program is released to the general public.
binary representation - A representation of data in one of two states, usually presented as one of two digits; for example, 1 for on, and 0 for off.
bit - A single binary unit which is the smallest unit of data that a computer can deal with.
bit-mapped - A system of mapping the video display in which every picture element (pixel) on the display screen is identified by a corresponding bit in the computer's memory. In monochrome displays, one pixel corresponds to one bit in memory. Color displays assign more bits to display the color of each pixel. (See also graphic display monitor or dot-addressable monitor.)
bits-per-second - (bps) A standard methods of measuring data communications rates (number of bits that can be transmitted per second).
bps - (See bits-per-second.)
bridge - Used to establish communications between two different networks. To enable such a bridge, a cabling connection is provided between two networks. When the two networks are of different types, special bridge software is used to facilitate communications between them. (Contrast with gateway.)
broadband - Networks are often categorized as either baseband or broadband. The difference lies in the speed of communications between stations on the network. Broadband networks are the faster of the two using higher-speed, multiple channel cable connections that are capable of carrying a variety of signals including data, voice, and video. In data communications, the fastest channels are referred to as broadband (or wideband). They are considered to be high-speed channels and can carry data at rates in the hundreds of thousands or even millions of bits-per-second. These high-speed channels require the use of special coaxial or fiber-optic cables. Contrast with baseband. (See also narrowband.)
bug - An error in a computer program.
bulletin board - Special hardware/software systems used to store computer files so that they can be accessed by users who have their own computers with communications capabilities. Organizations often establish computer bulletin boards to store files regarding products. Once communications have been established between two computers, a file can be sent to the bulletin board (uploaded), or retrieved from the bulletin board (downloaded).
business graphics - (See analysis graphics.)
bus network - A bus network interconnects a group of computers and computing devices using one master cable. There is no one host computer and these networks do not use a dedicated server. Instead, data is directed from one device to another when the sending device specifies the address of another device on the network. Bus networks are often used in organizations that store data in a variety of locations instead of one central location.
byte - A group of consecutive bits. Although the size of a byte can vary in different types of computer systems, traditionally a group of eight bits was used to form one alphanumeric character.
CAD - (See computer-aided design.)
CAE - ( See computer-aided engineering.)
CAI - (See computer-assisted instruction.)
CAM - (See computer-aided manufacturing.)
camera-ready copy - Documents (often produced using computer document-processing programs) ready to be photographed in preparation for printing.
CASE - (See computer-assisted systems engineering.)
cathode-ray tube - (CRT) A display monitor technology that is similar to that used in television sets. The CRT's electron beam creates a visible pattern on the display screen by activating (lighting up) the phosphor dots on the screen: these dots are known as picture elements or pixels.
CAT scan - (See computer tomography.)
CD-ROM - (compact disk read-only memory) Non-magnetic permanent storage systems that use a disk that looks just like the well-known music CDs. These disks can hold more than 500 megabytes (millions of bytes) of data and are therefore useful when there is a need to store a large amount of information - such as a complete encyclopedia - on a single disk.
cell - The box represented by the intersection of a column and a row in and electronic spreadsheet program.
cell address - The intersection of a column and a row in an electronic spreadsheet program is referred to as a cell. The cell address is the combination of the letter to indicate the column it is under and a number to indicate the row it is in.
cell pointer - The cursor or pointer that indicates the currently active cell in an electronic spreadsheet program.
centered justification - One of several word processing or desktop publishing options for aligning text in a document; in this case, text on each line is centered. (See also right justification and ragged justification.)
centralized information system - Computer systems that are generally based on a centrally located mainframe where all processing and storage operations take place. This type of system is usually designed to computerize a variety of operations within the organization. For example, by using a large, central computer, a business can computerize its order entry, inventory control, billing, and accounting operations. Although storage and processing take place at the central location on the mainframe, the input and output of data can be performed using terminals and printers at widely dispersed locations.
central processing unit - (CPU) The computer's main processing device, often referred to as the "brains" of the computer. Today's CPUs are silicon chips composed of two main parts, the control unit and the arithmetic logic unit (ALU), both of which contain registers or temporary storage locations for managing instructions and data as they are being processed. The CPU also has an internal clock that synchronizes all of the operations in the data cycle and helps to determine the speed at which operations are carried out.
CGA - (See color graphics adapter.)
chain printer - (Also known as a band printer.) A type of high-speed line printer that uses a striker to impact groups of characters that are embossed on a moving band or chain.
character-based interface - (Also known as a command-line interface). A computer operating system with which the user interacts with the computer by entering characters on a command line. Prompts which tell the user what is expected, are also presented as text.
character field - A type of data-entry field in a database that holds data in the form of letters and numbers.
character-mapped display monitor - (see alphanumeric display monitor.)
child record - Data structure can be seen as a family tree with both parent and child records. Each "parent" record (which is sometimes referred to as the root record) can have one or more children. (See also hierarchical data model, network data model, relational data model, and object-oriented data model.)
clip art - Collections of computer-generated art examples that can be copied and pasted into word processing, desktop publishing, or graphics programs.
clone - Any of a large variety of computers from many different manufacturers that are based on a set of hardware standards for computers that use central processing units for personal computers manufactured by the Intel Corporation (or CPUs compatible with Intel's). Clone computers should be able to run any computer program that is specifically designed to be used with that standard hardware configuration.
CMI - (See computer-managed instruction.)
COBOL - (COmmon Business Oriented Language) A programming language that was designed to be an easier-to-use business-oriented language. It includes many English-like statements for automating business tasks.
code - All of part of the set of instructions that are entered into a computer program by a programmer.
color graphics adapter - (CGA) A type of display monitor that can display four colors at a resolution of 320 by 200 pixels.
color separation - Refers to a graphics or desktop publishing program's capability to separate an image into its basic color elements (required by a printer when printing four-color images).
communications channel - If data is to be transmitted, a pathway or channel is required. The communications channel is the link or line through which the data is transmitted. There are three primary types of communications channels in use today - wire and cable, microwave, and satellite.
compiled - Refers to a program, created with a high-level programming language, that has been translated from its original form into a binary form of 1s and 0s (machine language) that can be understood by the computer.
compiler - A special program that is used to create a new version of a program so that it can be understood by the computer. This is done by translating the original program code into a binary form of 1s and 0s.
Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984 - The Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984 made it a crime to access computers without authorization in order to obtain classified information and protected financial information.
computer - A system of devices including input and output devices, memory, and processing hardware used to process information (data). Computers are frequently divided into three major classifications: mainframe computers, minicomputers, and microcomputers (personal computers).
computer-aided design - (CAD) A type of graphics program that is used by architects and engineers to design buildings and other types of objects such as airplanes, automobiles and computer systems.
computer-aided engineering - (CAE) Programs that simulate effects of conditions such as wind, temperature, weight, and stress on product designs and materials. Examples include the use of computers to test stresses on bridges or on airplane wings before the products are built.
computer-aided manufacturing - (CAM) Computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) involves the use of computers to control production equipment. CAM software can control such equipment as drilling, lathe, and mailing machines as well as robots.
computer-assisted systems engineering - (CASE) Computer programs that are used by programmers and systems analysts to aid the system design process.
computer-assisted instruction - (CAI) Computer programs used to facilitate learning.
computer information system - A computer system that is composed of a group of interrelated parts (or elements) and procedures that operate together toward some common organizational data-management goal. Computer information systems may be designed to take care of just one operational area, but today's more complex systems are more likely to be designed to integrate a variety of operational procedures.
computer-literate - People who are familiar with and can comfortably use one or more computer programs. Most large companies now require two types of computer-literate employees: nontechnical people who use computers in the performance of their everyday jobs, and technical specialists who are trained specifically to work with computers and computer networks.
computer-managed instruction - (CMI) Specialized programs for teachers that are used to create, deliver, and score tests, to keep track of student grades, and to create student progress reports.
computer program - A set of instructions written by a computer programmer to control a computer's activities.
computer programmers - Professionals who write program code and design the systems software and applications software that is used to control the computer's activities.
computer scientist - A person with professional-level skills in the design and management of computers.
computer system - A computer along with its related input and output devices.
computer tomography - (CAT scan) A computerized medical technology used to display the internal images of humans in three dimensions. (See also magnetic resonance imaging or MRI.)
computer-user interface - (See human-computer interface.)
computer virus - A computer programs that silently replicates itself on storage media without the computer user realizing it. Such programs are referred to as computer viruses because, in many ways, they act much like a human virus. These programs may intentionally or unintentionally cause computer problems.
concentrator - Multiplexing can be done by a concentrator. This device, which may be a computer with special multiplexing capabilities, divides the data channel into separate channels. It allocates channel space as the need arises by providing internal storage of the transmitted data when traffic on the channel is high and then forwarding the data later when the channel is available. A concentrator can also have additional data-management capabilities making it more flexible than other multiplexers. (See also multiplexer).
control module - A special module in a computer program which is used to control the other modules by specifying the conditions under which they will be called into action.
control unit - The part of the CPU that controls and coordinates the CPU's activities acting on instructions that it retrieves one-by-one from main memory.
copy protection - To avoid illegal copying of programs, some software manufacturers have devised elaborate schemes that are designed to keep users from making illegal copies of their products. Some of these copy protection methods require the user to keep the original diskette in a drive at all times. Others allow the user to make one copy only.
CPU - (See central processing unit.)
CRT - (See cathode-ray tube.)
cursor - Many programs display an on-screen insertion point indicator known as a cursor. The cursor indicates the position at which the next character entered will be placed. The cursor may be a horizontal bar that is displayed beneath text characters or a rectangle that overlays each character. Other modern programs use an insertion point indicator that is a vertical bar that is narrow enough to be displayed between characters.
cursor key - Keys on the keyboard that are used to move the cursor around on the screen. Each key has an arrow printed on it to indicate the direction of the cursor movement.
cursor position - The position at which the next character entered will be placed (indicated by the location of the cursor).
daisywheel printer - A type of impact printer which uses a replaceable wheel (that looks something like a daisy) with embossed characters that are of one type and size.
data - Information stored by computer.
database - A collection of data that is managed by computer methods.
database management system - (DBMS) A computer program that provides a way to manage data that is stored in different files. A DBMS differs from a file manager in that it provides a way to establish relationships between data elements in different files. (See also file management.)
data bus - (See data path.)
data dictionary - A dictionary of data-storage information for use by a relational database-management system. In order for a relational database-management system to locate information, a data dictionary must be created which includes the number and names of all the fields, the location of the various fields in the tables, and the relationships between the tables.
data encryption - A method of scrambling data so that even if an authorized person gains access to computer-stored data, they will not be able to use programs or make sense of data. A special decoding program is required to unscramble the encrypted data before it can be used. This security method can be used to protect data on floppy disks, fixed disks, and other types of magnetic media.
data entry screen - File-management software generally provides this type of screen display to prompt the user during data entry to indicate how the user is to enter data into each field of a data record.
data flow - Data flow can be managed in one of three modes - simplex, half-duplex, or full-duplex. These three modes refer to the direction of the data flow. If you are using a communications system in the simplex mode, data can only travel through the channel in one direction. Since this mode restricts communication to a one-way transmission, either sending or receiving, it is not used very often for communications between two computers. Using the half-duplex mode, on the other hand, data can be sent in both directions, but not at the same time. Using the full-duplex mode, data can be transmitted in both directions at the same time. Systems with special types of wiring may be able to transmit data at higher speeds using the full-duplex mode. However, the half-duplex mode is more commonly used when transmitting data between two computers. (See also simplex, half-duplex, and full-duplex.)
data path - (data bus) The circuits used to transfer data between CPU components.
data rate - Since the rate at which information is transmitted over a channel varies, communicating computer devices must be capable of transmitting and receiving data at differing rates. Data rates are measured in bits per second or bps. Each type of channel has a maximum rate at which data can be transmitted, based on the type of media used in the channel and its design. Generally, channels with data rates less than 300 bps are referred to as narrowband. Rates of 300 to 9,600 bps are known as voiceband or voice-grade. The fastest channels are referred to as wideband or broadband. They are considered to be high-speed channels and can carry data at rates in the hundreds of thousands or even millions of bits-per-second. These high-speed channels require the use of special coaxial or fiber-optic cables. (See also narrowband and wideband or broadband.)
date field - A type of data-entry field in a database that has been defined by the user to hold a date (usually in the dd-mm-yy format).
DBMS - (See database management system.)
debugging - The process of finding and fixing a program's errors.
decentralized information system - A decentralized information system uses separate computers - usually minicomputers or microcomputers - within individual departments. Sometimes there is a central mini or mainframe computer for applications that are shared between groups, but the basic design gives control of computers to individual departments. The advantage of a decentralized system is that users have more immediate access to information and do not have to wait for processing time as they may have to with a centralized system. (See also centralized information system and distributed information system.)
decimal system - The base-10 numbering system that is commonly used in non-computing situations.
dedicated line - Two computer devices may be connected using this type of line which is never disconnected.
defined style - A set of parameters for the display of text in a word processing or desktop publishing program. These parameters can be predefined as a named style and applied to any text in a document.
demodulation - When computers transmit data using standard communications systems (such as the phone system), binary data must be converted to the analog signals used by that system. This is known as modulation. When such data is received by computers, it must be converted back again to its digital form. This is known as demodulation. (See also modulation and modem.)
desktop computer - (See microcomputer.)
desktop publishing program - (Also known as a page composition program.) A program that provides most of the line-oriented word processing functions, but, in addition, add special page-oriented capabilities for displaying and managing graphics, fonts, and other page-design features like lines and boxes. These programs are designed to help you work on page details. They attempt to show you as close a representation of what your printed pages will look like as possible.
detail report - An information system must be capable of providing users with many different types of reports structured according to the needs of the user who is making the request. Reports designed to provide detailed information about stored data are known as detail reports. (Contrast with summary report).
difference engine - (See analytical engine.)
digital - Coded information can be transmitted as either digital signals or analog signals. A system that uses digital signals sends information coded as a set of discrete bits that can have one of two values. The two values are usually referred to as off or on, zero or one. (Contrast with analog.)
digital computer - A computer system that manages data in digital form. (See also digital.)
digital video - Most of the video images we are used to seeing on our home televisions sets were originally captured using a video camera and stored on video tape using analog data-storage methods. But today, special devices make it possible to store video images in digital form on a computer's magnetic media as computer graphics. By rapidly delivering these digital graphics images to the computer's screen one after the other, we can simulate the same kind of video image as we see on our television set.
direct conversion - a method of converting to a new computerized data-management system in which all users, with training and technical support, convert immediately to the new system. (See also parallel conversion, phased conversion, and pilot conversion.)
direct file organization - (Also known as random or relative organization.) A method of organizing stored data in which records organized in this way are accessed by their storage location. Direct file organization is more likely to be used when the records in the file need to be accessed randomly. (See also indexed file organization and sequential file organization.)
diskette - (floppy disk) A form of permanent storage that can be inserted into a computer that has a compatible disk drive. Some personal computers use a 5 1/4-inch diskette housed inside a flexible plastic jacket; however, the trend is toward smaller 3 1/2-inch diskettes enclosed in a hard plastic case. Both types of diskettes use the same thin, flexible plastic disk inside that is coated with a magnetic substance, but their storage capacities can vary from 360,000 bytes to more than 2 million bytes.
display monitor - The computer's main output device used to display text and images on a view screen. Today, monitors can present information in many colors and in many forms, including pictures.
distributed database - Computer-stored information that is maintained by individuals and departments within the organization. Often much of the information contained in a distributed database is composed of specialized information downloaded from the organization's operational databases. (See also operational database and management database.)
distributed information system - Computer systems in which the computers of each group are networked so that they can communicate. The system may use a local-area network to connect the computers that are in one building or a wide-area network to connect computers that are located at some distance from one another. A distributed system can provide quick access to data and more control over applications by individual departments and incompatible applications used by individual departments is less of an issue. (See also centralized and decentralized information systems.)
documentation - There are two types of computer-related documentation. For computer users, the set of user's manuals that come with applications software and with other computer hardware and software components are known as user documentation. For computer programmers, information about the design and function of computer programs are known as program documentation.
dot-addressable monitor - A bit-mapped, graphic monitor that uses a system of mapping the video display in which every picture element (pixel) on the display screen is identified by a corresponding bit in the computer's memory. For that reason, every pixel is addressable with software. (See also graphic display monitor or bit-mapped monitor .)
dot-matrix printer - The most common type of impact desktop printer based on a technology that places a dot on paper when one of a group of pins in the printhead strike through an inked ribbon; a series of these dots are used to represent characters or graphic images.
download - To retrieve data from a distant computer to your local computer. (Contrast with upload.)
draft quality - Computer-printed copies that have been intentionally printed with limited quality to save on printer resources.
dragging - Many modern computer programs support the use of a mouse as a pointing device. If so, you can "drag" on-screen images or highlight text with the mouse pointer by holding down a button on the mouse as you move it.
draw program - A type of graphics program that is used to draw objects (points, lines, arcs, or combinations of them) on the computer screen and print them. Images created with a draw program are manipulated and edited as "whole" objects, as opposed to objects created with a paint program which can be edited one pixel at a time.
drum printer - A type of high-speed line printer that uses a rotating drum with characters embossed on it.
dumb terminal - A display monitor and a keyboard that is attached to a remote computer. Referred to as "dumb" because it has no built-in processing capability, depending entirely on the remote computer.
ease-of-use - Refers to user interface issues which can make a program easier to use. Generally, programs which are more intuitive and provide a visual, common-sense approach will be easier to use.
EBCDIC - (Extended Binary Coded Decimal Interchange Code) A computer coding system used on IBM mainframes and on other large computers.
E-cycle - (See execution cycle.)
EFT - (See electronic funds transfer.)
EGA - (See extended graphics adapter.)
electroluminescent - (EL) displays A type of flat-screen technology that uses a specially treated film on the screen that glows when electric current is applied at the intersection of a horizontal line and a vertical line. The image produced is of a very high quality.
Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 - A government act that provides privacy protection for computer communications, including electronic mail. This act makes it a federal crime to intercept these kinds of computer-based transmissions.
electronic funds transfer - (EFT) The use of computers to electronically transfer funds from one account to another without the need for paper work.
electronic-mail - (e-mail) Computer-based systems that provide individual computer users with an "address" to which computer messages can be sent.
electronic spreadsheet - Based on the traditional large paper worksheets that have long been used by accountants and financial analysts, these computer programs provide a way to analyze numerical data and display the results. Like the traditional paper worksheet, the data is displayed in columns and rows and data may be addressed by cell address (the intersection of a column and a row).
electrostatic plotter - A type of nonimpact printer that produces graphics by applying an electrostatic charge to rolls of special paper.
e-mail - (See electronic mail.)
end user - The individual who will use a computer or a computer program.
end-user documentation - (See documentation.)
ENIAC - A large-scale computing device based on electro-mechanical switches and radio vacuum tubes developed shortly after World War II by John Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert. This device was known as the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Calculator (ENIAC) and is now seen by many as the first electronic computer.
ergonomics - The study of how humans interact with all kinds of machines, including computers.
errors in logic - Errors in a computer program that are related to programming logic. For example, if a program that is supposed to add two numbers together does not carry out the addition function correctly, it is known as an error in logic.
E-time - (See execution cycle.)
execution cycle or E-cycle (E-time) - The period of time it takes the CPU to execute an instruction and store the result in a register.
expert systems - Artificial intelligence programs that use the same rules as human experts to make decisions based on available evidence.
Extended Binary Coded Decimal Interchange Code - (See EBCDIC.)
extended graphics adapter (EGA) - A type of display monitor that produces images in up to 16 different colors at a resolution of 640 by 350 pixels.
facsimile machine - (See FAX machine.)
Fair Credit Reporting Act - A law passed in 1970 that requires credit bureaus to allow people to inspect and challenge any information in their own credit records.
FAX machine - An electronic device which can decipher coded signals sent by another FAX machine via the phone lines to recreate a copy of a document. The FAX device is used to send a "hard" copy of a document over the phone lines. Today, their are products which allow your computer to act as a FAX machine.
feasibility study - When studying the need for a new computerized information system, this aspect of the need analysis explores potential computerized solutions to specific problems.
field - In a database, a field is designated by the user to hold a single fact (or data element) of a specific type. A field can be one of four types: character field (holds numbers and letters), numeric or integer field (holds only numbers), date field (holds a date in the usual dd-mm-yy format) and logical field (used to indicate a true/false or yes/no option). (See date field, character field, numeric field, or logical field.)
fifth-generation programming languages - Refers to a generation of programming languages which uses a "natural language" approach (more like the way we normally use the English language) which is much easier and intuitive than the complex syntax requirements of fourth-generation languages. This generation of programming language utilizes a query-based method in which users can devise individualized ways of querying a database.
file - A set of data fields in a computerized database together make up a record. A collection of records make up a file. It is the complete collection of interrelated files that make up a database.
file management system - (Also known as a file processing system or record-management system or a flat-file system.) This type of data management system provides a way to organize data into separate files. The data can be accessed one file at a time.
file processing system - (See file management system.)
file server - A computer that is used to monitor and control the activities of a group of networked microcomputers.
first-generation programming language - The first programming languages which were machine languages that used binary codes of ones and zeros to control the activities of the computer.
fixed disk - (See hard disk.)
flat bed plotter - Plotters are designed to produce graphics output, in black and white or color, on paper of varying sizes. Most plotters produce images on paper using colored pens. A flatbed, or x-y plotter, uses drawing arms to draw the image on paper rolled out onto a flat surface.
flat file system - (See file management system.)
flat screen monitor - A type of thin monitor that does not use cathode ray tube technology. (See also liquid crystal display.)
floppy disk - (See diskette.)
flowchart - A graphic outline which helps a programmer design a program by using a set of geometric symbols to represent each aspect of the program.
font - A style of type used both for the display of text on a computer screen and for output to a printer. (See also typeface .)
footer - A line of text that will be printed at the bottom of each page. Most modern word processing programs provide a way to enter this line of text and to specify its position at the bottom of each page to be printed.
formula - Used to carry out a mathematical function that is related to data stored using an electronic spreadsheet program. The mathematical functions often refer to cell identifiers (referring to the location of the data on the spreadsheet) and include numbers, and arithmetic symbols to indicate the calculations that are to be carried out.
Fortran - An early, high-level programming language developed in 1954 at the IBM corporation. Named Fortran (short for formula translation), it was designed for scientific computing.
fourth-generation language (4GL) - A new type of programming language which requires less specificity in terms of the order in which computer instructions are listed and carried out. They are therefore referred to as nonprocedural languages. This generation of programming language uses a nonprocedural approach which allows programmers to tell the computer what to do without having to be so specific about the procedures used to do it.
Freedom of Information Act - A law, passed in 1970, that requires that government agencies allow citizens to know what information is filed on them.
full-duplex - Data flow can be managed in one of three modes - simplex, half-duplex, or full-duplex. These three modes refer to the direction of the data flow. If you are using a communications system in the full-duplex mode, data can be transmitted in both directions at the same time. Systems with special types of wiring may be able to transmit data at higher speeds using the full-duplex mode. (See also data flow, simplex, and half-duplex.)
gas plasma displays - A type of flat-screen monitor in which neon gas is trapped in the screen. When a current is applied across the tiny area that contains the gas, it glows to produce different colors.
gateway - Used to establish communications between local-area networks and host computers. Often such gateways link microcomputers, minicomputers, and mainframes. In addition to the physical links between these systems, special software is required to manage the differences in data-transmissions methods. For example, microcomputers can use special terminal emulation software which can mimic the function of terminals that are generally used to communicate with mainframe computers. (Contrast with bridge.)
G-byte - (See gigabyte.)
general-purpose application - Another name for software that is used by a wide variety of users to accomplish basic tasks such as word processing, record keeping, and the creation of graphic.
gigabyte (G-byte) - A billion bytes.
graphic display monitor - Displays that provide a large number of picture element (pixels) which can be illuminated to produce a wide variety of text characters or pictures. These monitors are designed as bit-mapped monitors because a representation, or map, of the image on the screen is maintained in the memory of the computer. (See also bit-mapped and dot-addressable monitor.)
graphical interface - (Also known as a graphical user interface or GUI.) A type of human-computer interface through which the user interacts with the computer by selecting options presented in the form of icons or graphic images.
graphics primitives - Basic drawing elements such as points, lines, and circles which are used to construct larger images when using a graphics program.
graphics scanner (image scanner) - A device used to convert pictures into a form that can be stored by the computer as digital data.
graphics tablet - A type of input device which allows a user to input images into a computer by drawing on a digitizing tablet that is attached to the computer.
grouped bar graph (Also known as a stacked bar graph.) - A graphic representation of data using parallel bars.
hackers - A nickname for people who access computers illegally from outside of an organization. Computer hobbyists who like to explore the lesser-known capabilities of computers are also referred to as hackers. It is probably more appropriate to refer to those who access data illegally simply as computer criminals.
half-duplex - Data flow can be managed in one of three modes - simplex, half-duplex, or full-duplex. These three modes refer to the direction of the data flow. If you are using a communications system in the half-duplex mode, data can be sent in both directions, but not at the same time. The half-duplex mode is commonly used when transmitting data between two computers. (See also data flow, simplex, and full duplex.)
hand-held computer - A small, battery-powered computer that is designed to be held in the hand while in use. (See also laptop computer, portable computer, and PDA (Personal Digital Assistant).)
hard copy - A term that refers to information from a computer that has been printed on paper.
hard disk (fixed disk) - A form of storage similar to diskettes except that the storage media (usually one or more spinning platters coated with a magnetic substance) is fixed in its own case, often housed inside the computer.
hardware - The physical components of a computer system. The computer's machinery, its electronic devices and its circuits.
header - A line of text that will be printed at the top of each page. Most modern word processing programs provide a way to enter this line of text and to specify its position at the top of each page to be printed.
help option - An option included in many modern computer programs to provide the program's users with supplementary information about using the program's features.
hexadecimal number system - A base 16 numbering system used by some computers for data encoding. This system does not require such a large string of digits to represent each number as the binary system does.
hierarchical data model - A descriptive model of data organization in which data is organized in a tree-like structure. In this model, each data element may have one or more secondary data elements linked to it. This type of data structure could be seen as a family tree with both parent and child records. Each "parent" record (which is sometimes referred to as the root record) can have many children. Each of the children has only one parent. (See also network, relational data model, and object-oriented data model.)
high-level language - Referred to as a third-generation language, this type of programming language uses an English-like approach that is easier to use than machine or assembly languages and they are machine independent (programs created with these languages can be used on more than one type of computer with little modification).
highlighted - An on-screen indication that data has been "selected." Whereas most modern computers display text as black characters on a white background, selected text is display as white characters on a black background.
high-resolution - Display monitors that use a higher number of on-screen picture elements (pixels) to display text and graphics. (Contrast with low-resolution.)
horizontal applications - Computer programs that are used by a widely used by a great variety of users.
host computer - A mainframe or minicomputer that is used in a multi-user environment to handle all of the input, output, and processing needs as input from terminals.
human-computer interface - (Also known as the user interface.) Refers to the way in which a computer system or a computer program presents information to users. Determines the way the users will interact with the system. (See also graphical user interface.)
IBM-compatible - (Also known as a clone.) Computers based on the Intel company's microprocessors that are capable of running the Microsoft company's MS-DOS operating system.
ICANN - The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, which oversees domains names and the internet's root servers.
icon - A graphic representation of data, a computer program, or a computer function.
I-cycle - (See instruction cycle.)
image processing - A newer type of paint program that provides powerful options for working with photographs that have been scanned into the computer (digitized). These programs generally require high-resolution monitors and a considerable amount of primary and secondary storage, but they give the user the capability to create professional-quality images on a PC-based system.
image scanner - (See graphics scanner.)
impact printer - A type of printer that uses a technology similar to that of a typewriter wherein ink is placed on paper through the use of a print head that strikes through an inked ribbon.
indexed file organization - A method of organizing stored data that uses special indexes to locate stored data. With this organizational method, each file includes an index to the data stored in it. (See also direct and sequential file organization.)
information age - Refers to the present period of our society wherein the processing of information has become a central activity.
informational database - (See management database.)
information center - A center for establishing hardware, software and procedural standards when a decentralized information system is in use.
ink-jet printer - A type of nonimpact printer that produces characters one dot at a time through the use of tiny ink jets which place droplets of ink on the paper.
input device - A device used to get information into the computer. This type of device is used to transfer data from its human-readable form into machine-readable form. The most common input devices are the keyboard, the mouse and the disk drive. Other input devices include scanners and drawing tablets.
insert mode - An option in a word processing or desktop publishing program in which each new character entered is inserted at the cursor position pushing existing characters to the right. (See also typeover mode.)
insertion point indicator - (See cursor.)
instruction cycle - or I-cycle (I-time) The period of time it takes the CPU to retrieve an instruction and initiate the task.
integer field - (See numeric field.)
integrated circuit - Computer circuitry based on silicon chips with thousands, or even millions, of etched circuits.
integrated program - A sophisticated software package that combines several capabilities into one program.
interactive processing - A data processing method in which sets of instructions are processed as they are entered. With interactive processing, the user is in direct contact with the computer using a keyboard or other input device. Each query receives an immediate response.
interface - (See human-computer interface.)
interpreter - A special type of program that is used to translate the instructions of a program (one at a time) to the binary form of 1s and 0s so that they can be understood by the computer.
internal clock - A part of the CPU that synchronizes all of the operations carried out by the CPU. The clock speed helps to determine the speed at which operations are carried.
internet - A public complex of world-wide interconnected networks. Although the National Science Foundation provided early funding for NSFNET, the backbone of the original network (the Commercial Internet Exchange developed another), most internet traffic is now carried by commercial carriers such as MCI. (See also world wide web and ICANN.)
I-time - (See instruction cycle.)
Jacquard's Loom - A device developed by the French inventor, Joseph Marie Jacquard, to automate rug weaving on a loom in 1804. The device used holes punched in cards to determine the settings for the loom, a task that normally required constant attention by the loom operator. By using a set of punched cards, the loom could be "programmed" to weave an entire rug in a complicated pattern. This system of encoding information by punching a series of holes in paper was to provide the basis for the data-handling methods that would eventually be used in the early computers.
JCL - (See job-control language.)
job-control language - (JCL) The systems control commands used with mainframe computers. Since each mainframe computer has its own specialized set of commands, the computer operator must receive special training to use it.
K-byte - (See kilobyte.)
keyboard - This most common computer input device, originally based on the typewriter, now has a number of special keys which can be programmed to function in specific ways with different applications.
kilobyte - (K-byte) A thousand bytes.
label - Text used in an electronic spreadsheet program to describe data or data relationships.
LAN - (See local area network.)
laptop computer - A small, very portable computer that can be battery-powered and therefore used while traveling (possibly used while being held on the traveler's lap). (See also portable computer, PDA, and handheld computer.)
large-scale integration - (LSI) Refers to miniaturization of the computer's integrated circuits.
laser printer - A type of nonimpact printer that utilizes a technology developed in dry-toner copying machines to print a complete page at a time. Laser printers are faster and quieter than impact printers and generally produce a higher-quality output.
LCD - (See liquid crystal display.)
leased line - A type of communication channel used to connect computer devices that is leased from another organization such as a phone company.
letter-quality printer - A type of impact printer that places ink on paper by striking through an inked ribbon using strikers embossed with letters (like a typewriter). The characters that are created are generally of a higher quality than those produced with dot-matrix printers.
light pen - A type of input device which allows the user to interact with options displayed on the screen by touching a pen to the screen surface.
line graph - A graphic representation of data using lines that connect data points.
line printer - A type of wide-carriage impact printer that prints one line at a time instead of one character.
liquid crystal display - (LCD) A type of flat-screen monitor that uses a clear liquid sealed into tiny pockets in the glass which darken when an electric current is applied. Red, blue and green filters can be used to produce images in colors.
local area network - (LAN) Interconnected computers located in the same general area. (Contrast with wide area network.)
logical field - A type of data-entry field in a database designated by the user to hold data that indicates a yes/no or true/false option.
low-level language - Machine languages and assembly languages are known as low-level languages because they interact directly with the computer's hardware using machine-oriented codes rather than English-like commands.
low-resolution - Display monitors that use a lower number of on-screen picture elements (pixels) to display text and graphics. (Contrast with high-resolution.)
LSI - (See large-scale integration.)
Luddites - A group in England that smashed some of the early automated looms as a protest against mechanical innovation and the related threat to their jobs.
machine cycle - Consists of an instruction cycle plus one or more execution cycles.
machine dependent - Refers to programming languages that are used to create programs for a specific type of computer.
machine independent - Refers to programming languages that can be used to create programs that will work on more than one type of computer with little modification.
machine language - A programming language which uses binary code (1s and 0s) that gives the programmer precise control over all of the computer's activities. All programs, no matter what computer language was used to create them, must be converted into machine language before their instructions can be understood by the computer. Developed in the early days of computing, these first-generation languages are designed for a specific type of computer processor and are referred to as low-level languages because instructions are written in a binary form of 1s and 0s that can interact directly with the computer's hardware.
macro - A software capability that provides a way to carry out a series of steps to replicate functions that are repeated often.
mail-merge - A set of special word processing features that make it easier to prepare form letters. Using these features, you can leave blank areas in a letter (for example, the inside address and the salutation). To personalize the letter, these blanks can be filled automatically just before each letter is printed by instructing the program to insert names from a list of names in another computer file.
magnetic resonance imaging - (MRI) A computerized medical technology used to display the internal images of humans in three dimensions. (See also computer tomography or CAT scan.)
magnetic tape drive - A type of computer storage device that uses reel-to-reel tape (sometimes held inside a special cartridge) that is coated with magnetic material. One of the first storage devices that used magnetic media. Although they are slower than disks, because they use long tapes with far more magnetic surface area than disks, they can hold far more data. For that reason, they are often used for backing up data; that is, for making a second copy of data for safekeeping. They are an especially good medium for backing up the type of data that does not have to be constantly updated or altered.
magneto-optical storage - A type of rotating storage based on a technology that combines an optical medium and a magnetic medium.
mainframe - A large, expensive computer that is often referred to as a host computer because it is host to many remote users that communicate with the mainframe using terminals. The first computers were mainframes.
main memory - (See memory.)
management database - (Also known as a informational database.) Computer-stored information that is a special compilation of strategic information from the organization's operational database (or from outside databases) that is used to support management decision making. These databases focus on trends, seasonal patterns, and profitability patterns by product, by geographical area, and by market share. This type of database may be part of a computerized decision support system that provides management with facts and the analysis of those facts. (See also distributed database and operational database.)
Management Information System - (MIS) Today, computerized information management in business is so important and so extensive that special departments have been formed in most large corporations to deal specifically with the management of information. These management information systems (MIS) departments are responsible for providing computing services to all other business departments.
many-to-many data relationship - (See Network Data Model.)
Mark 1 - An early computing machine developed by Howard Aiken of Harvard University, working with the support of the IBM company in 1944. Also known as the Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator, it is now seen as the first full-sized digital computer (smaller-scale electric calculating devices had been created earlier). The Mark 1 filled an entire room and weighed 5 tons, included 500 miles of wiring, and was controlled by punched paper cards and tapes.
M-byte - (See megabyte.)
media - (plural of medium) Storage media refers to the materials used to store computer data (for example, diskettes coated with a magnetic substance). Communications media refers to the wires and cables used to carry data during communications between computers.
medium - (See media).
megabyte - (M-byte) A million bytes.
memory - (Also known as main memory or temporary storage.) A computer storage area for data. Computers act on instructions provided by computer programs. These instructions are temporarily stored in a special data storage area referred to as main memory. Computer memory can be volatile (erased when the computer is turned off or nonvolatile (data remains in storage even after the computer is turned off). The most common type of memory in use today is a chip-based volatile type known as random-access memory (RAM).
memory dump - A printout of all the data stored in a computer's memory.
menu - Lists of program options provided by modern computer applications. The option lists are often grouped and hidden away, accessed through the selection of key words or phrases displayed across the top of the screen. Usually, selecting the menu title "opens" the related menu list directly beneath the title.
menuing systems - A type of program interface that uses keywords to represent pull-down menus of options. (Also see menu.)
microcomputer - (personal computer or PC) A desktop-sized or smaller personal computer based on a microprocessor.
microprocessor - A single chip with numerous miniaturized circuits used in microcomputers and generally manufactured by a third party (someone besides the maker or the user of the computer).
microwave channel - Unlike transmissions that use the various types of wire media, microwave is sent through the air in the form of electromagnetic waves.
minicomputer - A medium-sized host computer that is smaller and less expensive than mainframe computer.
MIS - (See Management Information System.)
modem - While computers manage data using digital methods that are expressed in binary form (either on or off), most communications devices use analog methods that deal with continuous patterns of sound frequencies. When computers transmit data using standard communications systems (such as the phone system), binary data must be converted to the analog signals used by that system. This is known as modulation. When such data is received by computers, it must be converted back again to its digital form. This is known as demodulation. A communications device that carries out both tasks is referred to as a modem (a contraction of the terms modulation and demodulation). (See also modulation and demodulation.)
modulation - When computers transmit data using standard communications systems (such as the phone system), binary data must be converted to the analog signals used by that system. This is known as modulation.
module - A programming term which refers to a group of related instructions which represent just one aspect of a more complex program.
monochrome monitor - A type of display monitor which produces individual characters in one color on a black background.
mouse - An input device which is used to move the cursor around the screen and to point to and select the various options that are available.
MRI - (See magnetic resonance imaging.)
multidrop - (See multipoint.)
multimedia - Programs that bring a variety of media sources (graphics, sound, and video) under computer control.
multimedia authoring systems - Programs that provide software tools to design interactive multimedia-based presentations.
multimedia database - Databases that include computer-stored graphics, sounds, or video.
multiplexer - A communications device that allows a number of computing devices to share the same communications line. Such devices are often used to take signals from several computing devices and combine them for transmission via a modem over high-speed channels. Another multiplexing device at the other end of the connection is used to split the signals back into their original components.
multipoint - Systems designed to establish communications between a number of devices and involve the use of some type of controller to manage the traffic of transmitted data on the shared line. (See also point-to-point.)
multiuser system - (Also known as a multiple-user computer or as a host computer.) A computer system that is used by a number of users. In contrast with personal computer systems, these larger-scale systems are host to many users who may be all in contact with the computer at the same time using dumb terminals that consist of a keyboard and a monitor.
multiprocessing - A computer process in which more than one type of data processing task can be carried out at the same time.
multitasking - Computers that can start one task and then move on to anther while the first continues to operate.
Napier's Bones - A mathematical calculation device designed by John Napier in the early 1600s that used a set of ivory rods that looked like bones. It was similar in principle to the modern slide rule.
narrowband - Each type of data communications channel has a maximum rate at which data can be transmitted, based on the type of media used in the channel and its design. Generally, channels with data rates less than 300 bps are referred to as narrowband. (See also broadband (wideband).)
natural language - Refers to a type of intuitive, more natural use of the English language when communicating with the computer without the complex sequencing and syntax requirements of earlier programming and database query languages.
network - A communications system that links computers and computing devices so they can share information but continue to operate independently. Such networks can link microcomputers, terminals, minicomputers, mainframe computers, and computing devices such as printers and storage devices.
network data model - A descriptive model of data organization which is similar in organization to the hierarchical model in that each parent data element can have many subordinate "child" data elements. However, in this model, each data element can have more than one parent. This provides the potential for more complex relationships between data elements. (See also hierarchical data model, relational data model, and object-oriented data model.)
network interface port - The physical interface to which cabling is connected to enable interconnections between computers on the network. These interface hardware components may be built into a computer or they may be provided by a specialty manufacturer and added to the computer.
network node - The position or location of a device on a network. A network may include a variety of computers (micros, minis and mainframes) and computing devices such as printers, storage devices, and digitizers. Either a computer or a computing device can occupy a node on the network.
nonimpact printer - A printers that creates an image on paper without using a striking device. Laser printers and ink-jet printers are common examples of nonimpact printers.
nonprocedural language - A type of programming language which requires less specificity in terms of the order in which computer instructions are listed and carried out than procedural languages.
nonvolatile - A type computer memory in which stored data is not lost when the computer is turned off.
notebook computer - A small, portable, battery-powered computer roughly the size of a notebook.
numeric field - (Also known as a integer field.) A type of data-entry field in a database designated by the user to hold data in the form of numbers.
object-oriented authoring (OOA) - An authoring system that provides a way for non-professionals to create custom applications. Today's OOA systems provide a set of objects and drawing tools which can be used to design screen displays. On-screen objects can be programmed to respond to user input.
object-oriented data model - A descriptive model of data organization more commonly used for managing databases composed of computer-stored graphic images and sounds. In this model, each element is treated as an object which is described in terms of its attributes and relationships, plus the methods and processes that can be performed upon it. (See also hierarchical data model, relational data model, and network data model.)
object-oriented programming (OOP) - A programming method that gives the programmer new tools to work with that are based on a concept of "objects" that combine data and programming instructions.
object program - The new program that is created when a source program is compiled.
OCR - (See optical character recognition.)
off-the-shelf software packages - (Also known as off-the-shelf applications.) Software designed to meet the needs of a large number and variety of users and which can be purchased from retail outlets.
OOA - (See object-oriented authoring.)
OOP - (See object-oriented programming.)
one-to-many data relationship - Refers to an organization of stored data in which there is one parent data element to many child elements. (Contrast with one-to-one data relationship below.)
one-to-one data relationship - Refers to an organization of stored data in which there is one parent data element to one child element. (Contrast with one-to-many data relationship above.)
operational database - (Also known as a subject-area or transactional database.) Computer-stored information required for the overall operation of an organization. Databases that include information on customers or personnel are of this type. (See also management database and distributed database.)
operating system - A set of programs used to automate the operational tasks of the computer and its devices. These programs are designed to specifically address the capabilities of the computer's processor to monitor and control the computer's processing activities. Operating systems first appeared in the third generation of computers.
optical character recognition - (OCR) A technology which uses special software with an image scanner to allow users to capture text from printed material and store it in a form that can be edited using a computer program such as a word processing program.
optical disk - A storage device based on laser technology that uses a durable non-magnetic technology to store large quantities of information.
OS/2 - A graphics operating environment produced by the IBM Corporation.
output - The term used to describe information that has been printed by a printing device that is attached to a computer.
output device - A device used to get information out of the computer in a form usable by humans. The display monitor and the printer have long been the computer's primary output devices.
page composition program - (See desktop publishing program.)
page preview - A special mode of modern programs that provide an accurate view of what a full printed page would look like.
paint program - A type of graphics program that provides a variety of tools and options which make it easy to create, display and print pictures on the computer. Objects created with a paint program can be edited one pixel at a time, as opposed to objects created with a draw program which are edited as "whole" objects.
paper tape - A type of system that was used in the early days of computing to get information into the computer.
parallel conversion - A method of converting to a new computerized data-management system in which both the old and new systems are run simultaneously for awhile while users learn about the new system. (See also direct conversion, phased conversion, and pilot conversion.)
parallel processor system - A computer system that uses more than one processor. These computers can complete certain types of data processing much faster than single processor computers because data management tasks can be shared by cooperating processors.
parent record - An element in a data-organization model which views data relationships as a family tree. Parent records (sometimes referred to as the root records) can have one or more children and are therefore higher on the family tree (See also hierarchical data model, network data model, relational data model, and object-oriented data model.)
parity bit - A binary code which is attached to characters being transmitted within the CPU to assure that no data has been lost during transmission.
password - A special code word that must be entered before a computer system can be used or before access to computer-stored information is allowed.
PC - (personal computer) (See microcomputer.)
PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) - A small, battery-powered computer designed to be held in the hand while in use. These computers do not include a keyboard but instead usually use a pen as the input device. (See also laptop computer, portable computer, and handheld computer.)
personal computer - (PC) (See microcomputer.)
phased conversion - A method of converting to a new computerized data-management system in which one module is implemented, tested and refined before the next module is converted. (See also direct conversion, parallel conversion, and pilot conversion.)
pie chart - A method of graphically representing data relationships as if data elements were slices of a pie.
pilot conversion - A method of converting to a new computerized data-management system in which the new system is implemented only in one part of the organization. (See also direct conversion, parallel conversion, and phased conversion.)
plotter - A type of nonimpact printer that uses colored pens to produce graphics output, in black and white or color, on paper of varying sizes.
pointing device - Any input device that is used to point to and select options and objects on the computer screen. The mouse is a good example of this type of input device because it is used to point to objects on the computer screen in order to initiate commands and select options. Pointing devices such as the mouse became very important to computer users with the advent of graphical user interfaces and sophisticated draw and paint programs.
point-of-sale - (POS) Product scanning systems in stores that tie into the store's computer inventory system to provide an accurate record of sales and product availability.
point-to-point - A communications configuration in which two computer devices are connected with no other devices on the line. (See also multipoint.)
POS - (See point-of-sale.)
portable computer - A small, relatively transportable computer that may be battery-powered and therefore used while traveling. (See also laptop computer, PDA, and handheld computer.)
presentation program - A type of graphics program used to make computer-based presentations. Often this type of program includes options to turn numerical information into charts and graphs.
primary memory - The random-access memory (RAM) that comprises the primary storage unit of the CPU (used to temporarily store data during processing). (Also known as main memory.)
printer - A common type of output device used to created a printed copy (hard copy) of computer-stored data.
Privacy Act of 1974 - A law that makes it illegal for government agencies to collect information on citizens for illegitimate reasons.
private line - A dedicated line for computer communications that is owned by the organization that uses it.
procedural language - A type of high-level programming language that requires that each computer instruction be listed and carried out in sequence.
professional groups - A group organized around a common professional interest that is related to the use of computers.
program editor - A program often provided with programming languages so that the programmer can use the keyboard to enter code into the program during the programming process.
programmer - The creator of a computer program.
programmer documentation - Refers to the information created by computer programmers to describe the programming logic of a program.
programming - The act of creating a computer program.
programming language - Software used to create the set of special instructional statements used by computer programmers to control the activities of the computer. These programs are used to create all of the programs we use on the computer including applications programs, systems software programs and the programming languages themselves.
programming software - A type of software used to create all other types of computer programs. It is used to develop and then store the complex sets of instructions that control the computer: every program, including all of the systems and applications programs, and even the programming languages themselves, begin as a set of specific instructions to the computer.
protocol converter - Because data is often transmitted in a variety of different formats (known as protocols), many organizations use multiplexers that include a protocol converter to provide a way for different types of computers using different types of transmission methods to communicate with each other. Such systems are often used to allow communications between microcomputers and mainframes.
pseudocode - A set of statements in English that map out the program plan before the programming process is started.
public domain software - Software that is available for free or for a nominal copying fee. Users are free to make a copy of this type of software and use it without the restrictions of licenses found on commercial software.
pull-down menu - A type of information-providing method that displays a set of keywords across the top of the screen. When a user selects a keyword, a list of available options appears to open from the top of the screen.
punched card - A paper card with holes punched in it that was used in the early days of computing to get information into the computer.
query - A request by a computer user for information about stored data. The result (output) of the query may be in the form of a list or it may be structured as a special report. The data may be displayed on a computer screen and/or printed on paper.
query language (4 GL) - A fourth-generation programming language used to organize data and print out reports based on information stored in a database. This type of program is referred to as a very high-level language because it is even easier to use than high-level languages.
ragged justification - One of several word processing or desktop publishing options for aligning text in a document; in this case, the lines of text are not aligned along the right margin. (See also centered justification and right justification.)
RAM - (See random access memory.)
random access memory - (RAM) (Also known as main memory.) This primary storage system gets its name from the fact that information can be accessed at any time and in any order. Data stored in RAM is lost when the computer is turned off.
random file organization - (See direct file organization)
read head - The component of a disk-based storage device that is used to read data from the disk.
read-only memory - (ROM) A type of permanent memory referred to as "read-only" because the computer cannot store data to ROM but data can be read from ROM as often as needed.
real memory - Refers to the computer's primary memory (RAM) as opposed to virtual memory which uses secondary storage to temporarily store part of a program that is too large for primary memory.
record - In a file management system, the user defines individual fields each to hold a single fact or data element. All of these fields together make up a record.
record management system - (See file management system.)
reduced instruction set computer - (RISC) A type of simplified CPU architecture used in the development of faster computers.
registers - Temporary storage locations in the CPU's control unit and arithmetic logic unit (ALU), which manage instructions and data as they are being processed.
relational data model - A descriptive model of data organization in which data is organized as a series of tables. Each table is composed of a series of columns and rows that correspond to those in the records contained in the database. The tables are all formatted the same with the same number of columns and the same number of rows. Certain data elements are repeated from one table to the next and serve as reference points for interrelating information between tables. (See also hierarchical , network data model, and object-oriented data model.)
relative organization - (See direct file organization.)
rendering program - A type of computer graphics program that provides the capability for the lighting, coloring, and texturing on-screen images. Rendering programs may also give the user a way to interactively control the perspective and angle of view of a drawing or alter the depth of field.
report generator - A feature of file-management programs which provides a way to create reports based on the stored data, and to display it on the computer's screen, or output it to a printer.
resolution - Refers to the clarity of the image on a display monitor which is determined by the number of pixels or pixel elements used.
RGB monitor - A type of display monitor which uses three electron beams to activate the screen's phosphors with a combination of three basic colors, red, green, and blue.
right justified - One of several word processing or desktop publishing options for aligning text in a document; in this case, the end of each line of text (except the last line in a paragraph) is aligned with the right margin. (See also centered justification and ragged justification.)
ring network - A type of networking configuration in which computing devices are connected in a circular pattern. Each computer is connected directly to two adjoining devices on the network. (See also token ring network.)
RISC - (See reduced instruction set computer.)
robotics - The use of robots for such manufacturing tasks as spot welding, drilling, lath work, and product assembly.
ROM - (See read-only memory.)
root record - (See parent record.)
ruler line - A feature of some word processing and desktop publishing programs that provides a visual representation of the current margins, indents, and tab settings.
satellite channel - A type of communication channel wherein the transmission is relayed by a satellite that is placed in orbit 22,300 miles above the earth's surface.
save option - An option in modern programs used to save data to disk.
scroll bar - A feature in modern word processing and desktop publishing programs providing several methods for moving quickly to a new location in your document.
secondary storage - Refers to a type of permanent storage for data and programs. Examples include storage provided by diskettes, magnetic tape, CD-ROM and optical disks. Secondary storage devices store data not currently being processed.
second-generation programming language - Assembly languages that provided a simplified programming approach in comparison with the first generation machine-languages.
sequential file organization - A type of database file organization in which files are retrieved in sequential order, one at a time. The order in which records are accessed can't be changed. (See also direct file organization and indexed file organization.)
serial port - The port (plug connection) on a computer device that is used to connect serial devices (devices to which data is sent sequentially).
shareware - A type of inexpensive software which is frequently sold at computer swap meets, conventions, or through the mail. The software may be copyrighted, but generally the developer allows users to make copies and use the software without an initial charge. However, if you intend to use the software beyond a brief tryout, the developer requests that you pay for the program.
signal type - Coded information can be transmitted as either digital signals or analog signals. A system that uses digital signals sends information coded as a set of bits that can have one of two values. Systems that use analog signals send data as a wave pattern that varies continuously.
simplex - Data flow can be managed in one of three modes - simplex, half-duplex, or full-duplex. These three modes refer to the direction of the data flow. If you are using a communications system in the simplex mode, data can only travel through the channel in one direction. Since this mode restricts communication to a one-way transmission, either sending or receiving, it is not used very often for communications between two computers. (See also data flow, half-duplex, and full duplex.)
single-tasking - Computers that can only handle one task at a time. The early computers were single-tasking computers.
site license - A special license sold by some software manufacturers which allow you to use a program throughout an organization. The organization saves money by purchasing a number of copies of the software at a discounted price.
software - In contrast to the computer's physical components or hardware, the software refers to the computer's programs. These programs provide instructions to the computer's hardware.
software interface - Refers to the way in which a computer program presents information and options to the user. In recent years a graphical software interface has become popular because it presents information to the user in the form of pictures or other graphical representations rather than using text.
software licensing agreement - An written agreement generally attached to the packaging of computer software that outlines the terms under which you may use the software.
software piracy - The computer crime of illegally making copies of copyrighted computer programs.
source document - A document (often a business form or a report of a business transaction) which is the source of the data to be input into a computer system.
source program - The term used for a computer program before it has been translated into a binary form of 1s and 0s (object program) that can be understood by the program.
spell checker - A feature of modern application that provide a way to check a text file for spelling errors.
SQL - (See Structured Query Language.)
stacked bar graph - (See grouped bar graph.)
star network - A networking type typically used to connect a group of computers or terminals to a host computer that manages communications between computers and other devices on the network. One advantage to this configuration is that devices attached to the host computer are independent; that is, a malfunctioning network device does not affect other devices on the network. On the other hand, the entire network is dependent on the host computer that is at the center of the star configuration.
status information - A feature of modern application programs to include information at the top or bottom of the screen regarding the status of the file you are working on.
storage devices - Devices used to store data that can be retrieved later.
structured programming - A modern programming technique that breaks the design and development of a complex programming task into less-complex segments.
Structured Query Language - (SQL) A type of fourth-generation query language. (See query language.)
stylus - A pen-like device (light pen) that is attached to the computer by wire. When the pen touches the screen special sensors detect the location and initiated commands.
subject area database - (See operational database.)
summary report - An information system must be capable of providing users with many different types of reports. Reports designed to provide summarize information about stored data are known as summary reports). (Contrast with detail report).
supercomputer - Similar in basic design to a mainframe, this type of powerful computer is able to process data faster than any other type of computer.
super VGA - (S-VGA) A type of display monitor that produces images in up to 256 color shades simultaneously at a resolution of 800 by 600 pixels.
S-VGA - (See super VGA.)
switched line - Two computer devices may be connected using this type of line which is the type used by the telephone system in which the phone company directs the call and establishes the connection. When the transmission is completed, the line is disconnected. (Contrast with dedicated line.)
synchronous - One of two methods commonly used to transmit characters over a channel. This method sends a block of characters in a timed sequence. Although this method requires more sophisticated communications equipment, it can be used to send data at higher transmission rates. (Contrast with the asynchronous transmission method.)
syntax - The words, symbols, and rules of grammar that are used in a programming language.
syntax error - Refers to errors in a program that are due to incorrectly entering keywords.
System 360 - A family of six computers introduced in 1964 by the IBM Corporation which allowed growing companies to purchase increasingly more powerful computers as needed without having to rewrite their software.
systems analyst - A professional who has the education and knowledge required to develop an organization's computer system. Their function is to design and implement systems that facilitate the storage and processing of data, and methods for accessing that data. They may also be involved in updating or modifying existing systems.
systems development cycle - One of the most frequently used models for systems development, in which the development process is broken down into a number of manageable phases or cycles.
systems software - The group of programs that control and coordinate the resources and operations of the computer system itself.
technical writer - A professional writer who creates the programmer and end-user documentation (user manuals) that must accompany every computer program.
technophobia - A fear of technology.
telecommuting - An arrangement in which employees do their work at home, communicating with the office and accessing information from the company's computer system through the use of a personal computer and a modem attached to the phone line.
teleconferencing - Conferences that link groups of individuals in different locations using television and/or computer communications equipment to share sound and images.
temporary memory - (See main memory.)
terminal emulation program - A type of computer program that lets a PC serve both as a stand-alone personal computer and as a terminal to retrieve data stored on the company mainframe.
text database - A type of database used to store large documents in an electronic form so that they can be retrieved by computer. Libraries use this type of database to provide access to large, specialized bibliographic data banks and special documents such as encyclopedias. Many of these databases are now stored on CD-ROM media
text style - (See typeface.)
thesaurus - A feature of modern word processing programs that provides you with alternatives to a selected word.
third-generation programming language - The languages developed during the third generation of software development are known as high-level programming languages. As opposed to machine languages and assembly languages, high-level languages use English words and they can be used to create programs that can be used on different types of processing hardware with little modification.
third party - A term used to refer to computer components or programming methods that are developed by someone other than the computer manufacturer.
time-sharing - An environment in which many users are in contact with the same computer at the same time.
token ring network - A type of network designed to speed up data transmissions by providing a special code (known as a "token") that is constantly sent between devices on the network. When a device on the network receives the token, it is free to transmit a message. This system is used to notify each device of an opportunity to transmit data and prevents two devices from transmitting at the same time. (Also see ring network.)
top-down design - A programming method that uses a conceptual hierarchy in the program planning charts in order to show the relationships between the modules in complex modular programs.
touch pad - A type of input device that uses a template placed on a programmed pad that initiates options based upon where the user touches the pad.
touch screen - A type of input device that allows the user to select options on the screen by touching the computer screen itself.
trackball - A type of input device that works much like a mouse, except the user manipulates a ball that moves the cursor around the screen.
transactional database - (See operational database.)
transistor - Invented in the late 1950s, this device replaced the thousands of vacuum tubes required in earlier computers. This marked the beginning of the second generation of computers known for its smaller, faster, and more economical computer systems.
typeface - A style of type used both for the display of text on a computer screen and for output to a printer. Computer typefaces are sold in "families" with each character in the family sharing certain appearance characteristics. (Also see font.)
typeover mode - An option in a word processing or desktop publishing program in which each new character you enter will replace the character at the cursor position. (Also see insert mode.)
UNIVAC - A series of mainframe computers based on the UNIVAC 1 which was the first commercially successful computer produced by Mauchly and Eckert for the U.S. Census Bureau in 1951.
Universal Product Code - (UPC) A type of bar code that is printed on the packaging of products to store information about the product. The code is composed of a set of printed lines of varying widths which when scanned (generally during a sales transaction), sends a signal to a computer which returns information about the product such as the price.
upload - To transfer data from your local computer to a distant computer. (Contrast with download.)
usenet - A world-wide discussion network that provides short articles with information sorted into "newsgroups" by topic and delivered via the internet.
user groups - A group of computer users who have organized themselves around an interest in a particular computer platform or application program.
user interface - (See human-computer interface.)
utility programs - Special programs that are used on personal computers to manage the computer and its attached input and output devices. Collectively these programs are known as the personal computer's operating system.
vacuum tube - Switching devices (based on a radio technology that used glass tubes to contain electrical switching circuits) that were used in the first generation of computers.
value - In electronic spreadsheet programs, a value is a number (positive or negative, with or without a decimal), which can be entered in any worksheet cell.
vector graphics - A type of computer graphics program used to draw objects which are treated as whole entities (rather than a series of individual pixels as in bit-mapped or paint graphics programs). The object, once drawn, can be resized or reshaped as a whole. This is accomplished through the use of a set of mathematical instructions which describe all of the rectangle's characteristics.
vertical applications - Specialized applications programs which are designed to meet the needs of a more narrowly defined group of users.
very high-level language - A type of programming language that is similar to a high-level language but is even easier to use. This approach make it easy for professionals and non-professionals alike to access data and create reports (often referred to as a fourth-generation language).
very large-scale integration - (VLSI) Refers to the miniaturization of integrated circuit technology where thousands of transistors can fit on one chip.
VGA (See video graphics array.)
videodisc - A type of storage device that is used to store and deliver high-quality video images to a television set (often under the control of a computer). Because the video images are stored on the videodisc a single image at a time, one image can be displayed or a sequence of images can be displayed to create the effect of standard video.
video display terminal - (VDT) (See display monitor.)
video graphics array - (VGA) A type of display monitor that produces images in up to 256 color shades simultaneously at a resolution of 720 by 400 pixels.
virus - A type of computer program that is designed to replicate itself when stored by a computer system without the user being aware of it. Some virus programs are designed specifically to damage data and others can interfere with the operation of other programs as they replicate.
virus detection program - A type of computer program that is designed to detect computer viruses and repair any damage caused by them.
virtual memory - A storage method that uses secondary storage to store program processing information when programs have extensive memory requirements.
virtual reality - A type of computer program that allows users to interact with highly realistic, three-dimensional graphic displays in a way that gives them the feeling that they are fully immersed in the computer image. This is often done through the use of special computer-display goggles or other display devices that limit the user's view to computer-generated information. Some virtual reality programs provide sensory data to the user through use of a special glove or a body suit that outputs natural human movements that can be interpreted and acted upon by the computer.
VLSI - (See very large-scale integration.)
voice-grade - (Also known as voiceband.) Since the rate at which information is transmitted over a channel varies, communicating computer devices must be capable of transmitting and receiving data at differing rates. Each type of channel has a maximum rate at which data can be transmitted, based on the type of media used in the channel and its design. Generally, channels with data rates less than 300 bps (bits-per-second) are referred to as narrowband. Rates of 300 to 9,600 bps are known as voiceband or voice-grade. The fastest channels are referred to as broadband (wideband) .
voice input - A type of technology which allows the user to interact with the computer using their voice.
volatile - A type of temporary storage in the computer's main memory system that is lost when the computer is turned off.
wide-area network - (WAN) Networks used to connect computers and computing devices that are separated by distance. (See also local-area network.)
wideband - (See broadband.)
windows - A concept of graphical user interface design wherein different sets of information that appear on the display screen can be contained in separate, resizable boxes or windows.
Windows - A popular graphical user interface software environment developed by Microsoft Corporation.
word - (See wordsize.)
word processing program - A type of computer program that can be used to create, edit, format, save, and print documents.
wordsize - or word length Refers to the size of a group of binary digits that can be stored in each of the computer's memory locations: the wordsize or word length is, therefore, the number of bits of data that can be manipulated by the CPU in one block.
word wrap - A feature of some modern computer programs that include text management options which automatically moves the cursor down to the next line when the position determined by the right margin setting is detected.
worksheet - A file created using an electronic spreadsheet program. Based on the large paper worksheets traditionally used by accountants and financial analysts, the worksheet provides rows and columns that can be used to organize numeric data and to carry out mathematical analyses of it.
workstation - Powerful microcomputers, often attached to a mainframe or minicomputer, which are capable of handling multiprocessing tasks, that is they can carry out more than one type of data processing task at the same time.
world wide web - The world-wide system of interconnected network servers that deliver web pages based on markup systems that can be recognized by today's web browser software. (See also internet and ICANN.)
WORM - disk A type of optical disk system that can be written to only once but can be read many times.
write head - The component of the disk-based storage device that is used to write data to the disk.
WYSIWYG - (what-you-see-is-what-you-get) A feature of desktop publishing and modern word processing programs which allow you to see on-screen what your printed pages will look like. The term is pronounced "wizzy-wig."XGA - A type of display monitor that produces images in up to 256 color shades simultaneously at a resolution of 1024 by 768 pixels.
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