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accounting software

Software designed to help individuals and businesses create and track budgets


Software installed with another program that generates advertising revenue for the program's creator by displaying targeted ads to the program's user

analog signal

A continuous wave signal (sound wave) that can traverse ordinary phone lines

anti-spyware software

Software that detects and removes spyware

antivirus software

Software that searches executable files for the sequences of characters that may cause harm and disinfects the files by erasing or disabling those commands. Also called virus protection software

application software

Software that enables you to perform specific computer tasks, such as document production, spreadsheet calculations, database management, and presentation preparation


The design and construction of a computer; also called configuration

ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange)

The number system that personal computers use to represent character data


A Blu-ray disc on which you can record data once


A Blu-ray disc on which you can record data as on a BD-R, and then delete or re-record data on it as needed.


Stands for basic input/output system, the set of instructions stored in ROM that the computer uses to check its components to ensure they are working and to activate the software that provides the basic functionality of the computer when you turn on the computer.

binary digit (bit)

The representation of data as a 1 or 0.

bits per second (bps)

The unit of measurement for the speed of data transmission.


A wireless technology standard that allows electronic devices to use short range radio waves to communicate with one another or connect to the Internet; the radio waves can be transmitted around corners and through walls.


A disc used for storing high-definition video that stores 25 GB of data per layer.

boot process

The set of events that occurs between the moment you turn on the computer and the moment you can begin to use the computer

boot process

The act of turning on the computer.

broadband connection

A high-speed connection to the Internet.


A series of eight bits.


Plastic-enclosed wires that attach a peripheral device to a computer port.

cache memory

Special high-speed memory chips on the motherboard or CPU that store frequently-accessed and recently-accessed data and commands; also called RAM cache or CPU cache.


A removable circuit board that is inserted into a slot in the motherboard to expand the capabilities of the motherboard.

CD (compact disc)

An optical storage device that can store 700 MB of data.

CD-R (compact disc recordable)

A CD that on which you can record data with a laser that changes the reflectivity of a dye layer on the blank disk, creating dark spots on the disk's surface that represent the data; once the data is recorded, you cannot erase or modify it.

CD-ROM (compact disc read-only memory)

A CD that contains software or music when you purchase it, but you cannot record additional data on it.

CD-RW (compact disc rewritable)

A CD on which you can record data as on a CD-R, and then delete or re-record data on it as needed.


The intersection of a row and a column in a worksheet.


The medium, such as telephone or coaxial cable, over which a message is sent in data communications.

character-based display

A montior display that divides the screen into a grid of rectangles, one for each typed character.

characters per second (cps)

The unit of measurement for the speed of dot matrix printers.


An integrated circuit embedded in semiconductor material.


A path along which an electric current travels.

circuit board

A rigid piece of insulating material with circuits on it that control specific functions.


A computer networked to and dependent on a server.

client/server network

A network with a server and computers dependent on the server.

clip art

Simple drawings that are included as collections with many software packages

clock speed

The pulse of the processor measured in megahertz or gigahertz.

cloud computing

When data, applications, and resources are stored on servers accessed over the Internet or a company's internal network rather than on user's computers.


A type of input that instructs the computer how to process data.

complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) memory

A chip installed on the motherboard powered by a battery whose content changes every time you add or remove hardware on your computer system and that is activated during the boot process so it can identify where essential software is stored. Also called semipermanent memory.


An electronic device that accepts input, processes data, displays output, and stores data for retrieval later.

computer system

A computer, its hardware, and software.

controller card

A card that plugs into a slot on the motherboard and connects to a port to provide an electrical connection to a peripheral device. Also called expansion card or interface card.


The words, numbers, figures, sounds, and graphics that describe people, events, things, and ideas.

data bus

The path between the microprocessor, RAM, and the peripherals along which communication travels.

data communications

The transmission of text, numeric, voice, or video data from one computer to another or to a peripheral device.

data file

A file created by a user, usually with software, such as a report that you write with a word processing program.


A collection of information stored on one or more computers organized in a uniform format of records and fields.

database management software

Software you use to collect and manage data.

desktop computer

A personal computer designed to sit compactly on a desk and run on power from an electrical wall outlet.

device driver

A computer program that can establish communication between two devices because it contains information about the characteristics of your computer and of the device. Also called driver.

digital signal

A stop-start signal that your computer outputs into analog, or continuous wave, signals (sound waves) that can traverse ordinary phone lines.

DNS server

A computer responsible for directing Internet traffic

document production software

Software, such as word processing software, desktop publishing software, e-mail editors, and Web authoring software, that assists you in writing and formatting documents, including changing the font and checking the spelling.

dot matrix printer

A printer that transfers ink to paper by striking a ribbon with pins.

dot pitch (dp)

The distance between pixels on a monitor.

DSL (digital subscriber line

A high-speed connection over phone lines.

dual-core processor

A CPU that has two processors on the chip.


An optical storage device that stores between 4.7 and 15.9 GB of data, depending on whether data is stored on one or both sides of the disc and how many layers of data each side contains; was originally an acronym for digital video disc and later digital versatile disc.


A DVD on which you can record data once.


A DVD on which you can record data as on a DVD-R, and then delete or re-record data on it as needed.

DVI (digital video interface) port

A port that digitally transmits video.

electronic publishing

The production of documents using data communication.


The capability to send a message from one user's computer to another user's computer where it is stored until the recipient opens it.


To copy and paste source data into a new file.


Designed to fit the natural placement of the body to reduce the risk of repetitive-motion injuries.

ethernet port

A port used to connect computers in a LAN or sometimes directly to the Internet; it allows for high-speed data transmission.

executable file

A file that contains the instructions that tell a computer how to perform a specific task, such as the files that are used during the boot process.

expansion port

The interface between a cable and a controller card. Also called port.

expansion slot

An electrical connector on the motherboard into which a card is plugged. Also called slot.


One piece of information in a record.


A named collection of stored data.


A standard for transferring information between digital devices developed by Apple Computer company and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE); was standardized as IEEE 1394 interface.


Hardware or software that prevents other computers on the Internet from accessing a computer or prevents a program on a computer from accessing the Internet.

flash memory

Memory that is similar to ROM except that it can be written to more than once. Also called solid state storage.

flash memory card

A small, portable card encased in hard plastic to which data can be written and rewritten.

flat panel monitor

A lightweight monitor that takes up very little room on the desktop and uses LCD technology to create the image on the screen.


The style of type.

gigabyte (GB)

1,073,741,824 bytes, or about one billion bytes.

gigahertz (GHz)

One billion cycles per second.

graphical user interface (GUI)

A computer environment in which the user manipulates graphics, icons, and dialog boxes to execute commands.

graphics card

A card installed on the motherboard that controls the signals the computer sends to the monitor. Also called video display adapter or video card.

graphics display

A monitor that is capable of displaying graphics by dividing the screen into a matrix of pixels.

graphics processor

A processor that controls the signals the computer sends to the monitor. Also called built-in graphics card.

graphics software

Software that allows you to create illustrations, diagrams, graphs, and charts.

handheld computer

A small computer designed to fit in the palm of your hand, generally has fewer capabilities than personal computers, and runs on battery.

hard copy

A printed copy of computer output.

hard disk

A magnetic storage device that contains several magnetic oxide-covered metal platters that are usually sealed in a case inside the computer. Also called hard disk drive.


The physical components of a computer.

HDMI (high-definition multimedia interface) port

A port that digitally transmits video and audio.


A place on a Web page that is programmed to connect to a particular file on the same network server, or even on a network server on the other side of the globe. Also called link.

information management software

Software that keeps track of schedules, appointments, contacts, and "to-do" lists.

infrared technology

A wireless technology in which devices communicate with one another using infrared light waves; the devices must be positioned so that the infrared ports are pointed directly at one another.

inkjet printer

A printer that sprays ink onto paper and produces output whose quality is comparable to that of a laser printer.


The data or instructions you type into the computer.

input/output (I/O)

The flow of data from the microprocessor to memory to peripherals and back again.

input device

An instrument, such as a keyboard or a mouse, that you use to enter data and issue commands to the computer.


The seamless nature of OLE among some applications.


The largest network in the world.


The most frequently used input device; consists of three major parts: the main keyboard, the keypads, and the function keys

kilobyte (KB or K

1,024 bytes, or approximately one thousand bytes.

laser printer

A printer that produces high-quality output quickly and efficiently by transferring a temporary laser image onto paper with toner.

LCD (liquid crystal display)

A display technology that creates images by manipulating light within a layer of liquid crystal.

LED (light emmitting diode) monitor

A flat-panel monitor that uses LEDs to provide backlight.


1) To create a connection between source data and the copy in a new file; the copy in the new file is updated every time a change is made to the source data; 2) a place on a Webpage that is programmed to connect to a particular file on the same network server, or even on a network server on the other side of the globe.

local area network (LAN)

A network in which the computers and peripheral devices are located relatively close to each other, generally in the same building, and are usually connected with cables.

log in/log on

To sign in with a user name and password before being able to use a computer.

magnetic storage media

An object that stores data as magnetized particles on a surface.

mainframe computer

A computer used by larger business and government agencies that provides centralized storage, processing, and management for large amounts of data.


A broad term that describes any program that is intended to cause harm or convey information to others without the owner's permission.

megabyte (MB)

1,048,576 bytes, or about one million bytes.

megahertz (MHz

) One million cycles per second.


A set of storage locations on the main circuit board that store instructions and data.


A silicon chip, located on the motherboard, that is responsible for executing instructions to process data; also called processor or central processing unit (CPU).


A device that connects your computer to a standard telephone jack or to a cable connection).


The TV-like peripheral device that displays the output from the computer.


The main circuit board of the computer on which processing tasks occur.


A pointing device that has a rolling ball on its underside and two or more buttons for clicking commands; you control the movement of the pointer by moving the entire mouse around on your desk.

MP3 player

A hand-held computer that is used primarily to play and store music, but that can also be used to play digital movies or television shows, allow you to listen to FM radio stations, and access the Internet and email.

multimedia authoring software

Software that allows you to record digital sound files, video files, and animations that can be included in presentations and other documents.


The ability of computers of starting and running more than one program at a time.


A type of subnotebook computer that is primarily designed to allow isers to access the Internet and check email.


Connects one computer to other computers and peripheral devices, enablingyou to share data and resources with others

network interface card (NIC

) The card in a computer on a network that creates a communications channel between the computer and the network.

network software

Software that establishes the communications protocols that will be observed on the network and controls the "traffic flow" as data travels throughout the network


Any device connected to a network.

notebook computer

A small, lightweight computer designed for portability. Also called laptop computer.

object linking and embedding (OLE)

The ability to use data from a file created in one application in a file created by another application

operating environment

An operating system, such as Microsoft Windows and MAC OS, that provides a graphical user interface that acts as a liaison between the user and all of the computer's hardware and software.

operating system

Software that allocates system resources, manages storage space, maintains security, detects equipment failure, and controls basic input and output

optical storage device

A polycarbonate disk coated with a reflective metal on which data is recorded using laser technology as a trail of tiny pits or dark spots in the surface of the disk; the data that these pits or spots represent can then be "read" with a beam of laser light.


The result of the computer processing input.

output device

A device, such as a monitor or printer, that displays the results of processing data.

pages per minute (ppm)

The unit of measurement for the speed of laser and inkjet printers.

peer-to-peer network

A network in which all the computers essentially are equal, and programs and data are distributed among them.

peripheral device

The components of a computer that accomplish its input, output, and storage functions.

personal area network (PAN)

A network that allows two or more devices located close to each other to communicate or to connect a device to the Internet. In a PAN, devices are connected with cables or wirelessly.

personal computer (PC)

A computer typically used by a single user in the home or office for general computing tasks such as word processing, working with photographs or graphics, email, and Internet access.


To break into a DNS server and redirect any attempts to access a particular Web site to a spoofed site.


To send emails to customers or potential customers of a legitimate Web site asking them to click a link in the email and then "verify" their personal information; the link leads to a spoofed site.

photo editing software

Software that allows you to manipulate digital photos.


One of the small dots in a matrix into which a graphics display is divided.


A small arrow or other symbol on the screen controlled by a pointing device.

pointing device

A device, such as a mouse or trackball, that controls the pointer.

pointing stick

A small, eraser-like device embedded among the typing keys that you push up, left, right, or down to move the pointer; buttons for clicking commands are located in front of the spacebar.

presentation software

Software that allows you to display or project graphics and other information before a group, print them for quick reference, or transmit them to remote computers.


The peripheral computer component that produces a hard copy of the text or graphics processed by the computer.


To modify data in a computer.


A list of instructions that the computer uses to perform a specific task

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