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Glossary: Chapter 1

applications software
A program for a personal computer designed to carry out a common user need, such as word processing or a spreadsheet program.

artificial intelligence
A field of computer science concerned with the possibility that the computer can carry out applications that seem to be intelligent human behavior.

binary coding
A system for representing information in a computer with two states of electromagnetic phenomena, which can be denoted by the binary digits 1 and 0.

browser software
A computer program like Netscape Navigator which allows users to log onto remote sites on the Internet and retrieve information stored as World Wide Web documents.

CD-ROM drive
Hardware that can access digital data stored on a compact disk by reading it with a laser beam.

compact disk (CD)
A common mass storage medium based on the same technology as audio CDs, suitable for storing large amounts of fixed data like encyclopedias or video games.

computer graphics
The methods and techniques for creating and displaying pictures or images on computer screens or other output devices like printers or plotters.

computer screen or monitor
A device similar to a television screen for displaying the output of a computer. Also called a video display terminal (VDT) or cathode ray tube (CRT).

computer-assisted instruction (CAI)
The use of computers in some form for instruction, such as drill-and-practice in foreign languages.

computer
An electrical machine system capable of accepting data in symbolic form and processing them. The results are normally produced as output in some form.

control program (operating system)
An internal computer program designed to connect the user to the machine and monitor all activity within the machine; also called an operating system.

data
A general term for numbers, letters, and other symbols processed by a computer to produce information.

database package
Software used to create, maintain, retrieve, and produce reports about information kept in database records.

digitized
A term for information that has been converted into binary digits for computer processing.

drill-and-practice educational software
Instructional computer programs that drill students on materials for mastery, such as foreign language grammar exercises.

floppy disk drive
A hardware device that can read data inserted into it from diskettes and write information out onto diskettes. Early diskettes were flexible plastic and called "floppy." Most diskettes today are no longer floppy, but the term stuck for the disk drive that reads them, as opposed to a hard disk drive.

fuzzy logic
A field of artificial intelligence in which computers analyze logical relationships that are more or less true, in contrast to ordinary logic, where relations are more crisp.

general-purpose computer
A computer suitable for being programmed for a wide variety of tasks or applications.

gigabyte (GB)
A measure of main memory or auxiliary storage size, comprising one billion storage positions.

graphics package
Software for drawing, charting, and presenting graphics and illustrations.

hard disk drive
A storage device that can store hundreds of millions of characters or more.

hardware
Any computer machinery that performs information-processing functions.

home page
A term used for the opening screen of a Web application, which typically will contain text and graphics. It is accessed through its own address over the Internet.

hypertext (hypermedia)
A computer application that integrates at least one other medium with text, such as sound or graphics. Integrating all media together in one application, with some kind of navigation system among them, creates a hypermedia application.

Information Superhighway
A common term for the growth of infrastructure involving the Internet and the spread of high-speed data network services throughout the United States.

input
The process of transferring data into a computer system for storage and processing.

interactive multimedia
A multimedia production produced for access on a computer so that a user can move around among its resources in any order.

Internet
The largest network of interconnected computers in the world and the most common name for the Information Superhighway.

keyboard
A common input device for entering data into a computer; similar to a typewriter.

laptop
A portable computer: small, lightweight, and powered by either batteries or line current.

mainframe
The first commercial computers in the 1950s: large, fast, and of general application. Today they are widely used as central or host computers in large institutions.

megabyte (MB)
A unit of computer storage, equal to approximately 1 million bytes of storage.

microprocessor
The central processor of a personal computer, often called the chip. In the U.S., Intel and Motorola make the most popular ones used in IBM-compatibles and Macintoshes.

minicomputer
A computer category between a mainframe and a microcomputer in terms of size, cost, and processing power.

mouse
A hand-controlled hardware device that is slid around a desktop for selecting and drawing items on the computer screen, thereby reducing the need to type all commands.

multimedia
A term for integrating several computer media -- text, sound, graphics, and video -- together in one application, with some kind of navigation system among them.

multimedia machine
A term for a modern computer, a general- purpose symbol-manipulating device capable of processing and displaying a variety of output, such as sounds and video.

on-line
A term used to describe a person connected to a computer network, often at a remote location.

output
Transferring data processed by a computer system to a hardware device like a monitor or a diskette for display or storage.

personal computer (microcomputer or PC)
The least expensive and most common computer system in use today, built around a microprocessor and used mainly by one person at a time.

printer
The most common output device for PCs used to create printed reports.

processing
Manipulation of data by a computer that results in quick and efficient information.

program
A set of instructions that tells a computer what to do. Programs are often read from a diskette or a hard drive but sometimes are already resident in the computer's central memory.

random access memory (RAM)
The primary internal storage device of a personal computer, where programs and data are kept during processing.

simulation software
A computer program that imitates a process or set of activities, such as an organic chemical reaction or an environmental disaster.

software
The suite of programs that enables a computer system to process data, including both the operating system and a variety of application programs.

special-purpose computer
A computer dedicated to a single purpose, such as a digital watch.

spreadsheet
Software that can represent data in a row-and-column format and can manipulate them like an electronic ledger sheet.

stimulus/response
A common psychological way to describe the cycle of response in the human body to external sensations as mediated by the brain. Analogous to the throughput process in computers.

storage
Another term for memory, a hardware device for storing binary data and programs.

throughput
The computer cycle of inputting data, processing them, and outputting the information produced, analogous to the stimulus/response cycle in the body.

Universal Product Code (UPC)
A bar code printed on most consumer goods that indicates the manufacturer of the good as well as the product itself. It can be read by a scanner input device for computer processing.

word processing software
Any of many popular application programs designed for composing, revising, printing, and filing written documents.

Windows 95 (Win95)
A new operating system introduced in 1995 into the Microsoft family of Windows software for personal computers. It includes numerous improvements over DOS-based Windows 3.1.

Wintel
A modern acronym for a computer system containing an Intel microprocessor and a Microsoft Windows operating system.

World Wide Web (the Web, WWW)
The most popular part of the Internet today, a method of storing and distributing materials in several media over the network so that it can be viewed with browser software on a personal computer.


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