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American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII)

Coding system that computers of all types and brands can translate.

Arithmetic/Logic Unit

The part of the CPU that performs arithmetic computations and logical operations.


In binary (computer language), a bit represents a zero or one.


A byte is another word for character; generally represented by 8 bits.

Central processing unit (CPU)

Also known as the microprocessor; the brains of the computer


Data that is entered into the computer system via an input or storage device.

Machine Cycle

Comprised of the Instruction cycle and the execution cycle, it determines how quickly a computer processes data.

Main memory

Also called random access memory or RAM, it is like short-term memory. It stores data while the computer is running. When the computer is turned off or if there is a loss of power, any data in the main memory disappears. The computer can read from and write to this type of memory.


On the computer's motherboard, it's where data is stored.


Communications hardware device that facilitates the transmission of data.


A circuit board that contains all of the computer system's main components.

Random access memory (RAM)

Where instructions and data are stored on a temporary basis. This memory is volatile.

Read-only memory (ROM)

Permanent storage; instructions are burned onto chips by the manufacturer.

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