Learning Resources

Commonly Used Computer Terms

Some commonly Used computer terms are explained

access time - The performance of a hard drive or other storage device - how long it takes to locate a file.

application - a program in which you do your work.

ASCII - American Standard Code for Information Interchange. a commonly used data format for exchanging information between computers or programs.

bit - the smallest piece of information used by the computer. Derived from "binary digit". In computer language, either a one (1) or a zero (0).

boot - to start up a computer.

byte - a piece of computer information made up of eight bits.

CD-ROM - an acronym for Compact Disc Read-Only Memory.

Clipboard - A portion of memory where the computer temporarily stores information. Called a Copy Buffer in many PC applications because it is used to hold information which is to be moved, as in word processing where text is "cut" and then "pasted".

Clock Rate (MHz) - The instruction processing speed of a computer measured in millions of cycles per second (i.e., 200 MHz).

command - the act of giving an instruction to your computer either by menu choice or keystroke.

compiler - a program the converts programming code into a form that can be used by a computer.

CPU - the Central Processing Unit. The processing chip that is the "brains" of a computer.

data - Raw facts or figures which is processed  for getting information.

disk - a spinning platter made of magnetic or optically etched material on which data can be stored.

file - the generic word for an application, document, control panel or other computer data.

floppy - a 3.5 inch square rigid disk which holds data. (so named for the earlier 5.25 and 8 inch disks that were flexible).

folder - an electronic subdirectory which contains files.

hard drive - a large capacity storage device made of multiple disks housed in a rigid case.

keyboard shortcut - a combination of keystrokes that performs some function otherwise found in a pulldown menu.

Measurements (summary) -

a bit = one binary digit (1 or 0) *"bit" is derived from the contraction b'it (binary digit) -> 8 bits = one byte

*1024 bytes = one kilobyte

*KB = kilobyte

*Kb = kilobit

*MB = megabyte

*Mb = megabit

*bps = bits per second

memory - the temporary holding area where data is stored while it is being used or changed; the amount of RAM a computer has installed.

menu - a list of program commands listed by topic.

menu bar - the horizontal bar across the top of the computer¹s screen that lists the menus.

multi tasking - running more than one application in memory at the same time.

operating system - the system software that controls the computer.

optical disk - a high-capacity storage medium that is read by a laser light.

RAM - acronym for Random-Access Memory.

reset switch - a switch on the computer that restarts the computer in the event of a crash or freeze.

ROM - acronym for Read Only Memory; memory that can only be read from and not written to.

serial port - a port that allows data to be transmitted in a series (one after the other), such as the printer and modem ports on a computer.

server - a central computer dedicated to sending and receiving data from other computers (on a network).

shut down - the command from the Special menu that shuts down the computer safely.

software - files on disk that contain instructions for a computer.

spreadsheet - a program designed to look like an electronic ledger.

Uninterruptible Power Source (UPS)- a constantly charging battery pack which powers the computer. A UPS should have enough charge to power your computer for several minutes in the event of a total power failure, giving you time to save your work and safely shut down.