How can we help?

You can also find more resources in our Help Center.

Computer Literacy Terms

Arithmetic/logic unit (ALU)
Section of central processing unit that performs arithmetic computations and logical operations.
Machine language that is made up of only 0s and 1s.
A single zero or a single one in machine language.
A type of computer chip where instructions for starting up the computer are stored.
A single character in computer language; eight bits are equal to one byte.
Central processing unit (CPU)
Microprocessor that is the brains of the computer.
Circuit board
Thin plate or board that contains electronic components.
An electronic device that receives data (input), processes data, stores data, and produces a result (output).
Control unit
Coordinates all of the processor's activities.
Text, numbers, sound, images, or video.
Dual-core processor
A single chip that contains two separate processors.
Embedded computers
Perform specific tasks and can be found in a range of devices such as a digital watch or an MP3 player.
File allocation table (FAT)
A special log on a magnetic storage disk where each track is labeled and given a location.
Hard disks
Used to store data inside the computer; removable versions also available.
The actual machine—wires, transistors, and circuits—in a computer system.
Output produced by a computer.
Short term or long term way to store a file or information.
Mobile devices
Small general-purpose computers that can generally fit into the palm of your hand.
Circuit board mounted in a computer case that contains integral components.
Multicore processor
An expansion that provides for more than two separate processors.
Network drive
A hard drive or a tape drive located on a computer other than the user's local system.
Notebook computers
Small personal computers that contain the monitor with a built-in keyboard; also called laptop computers.
Random access memory (RAM)
Short term memory located on the motherboard that the computer can read froand write to temporarily.
Read-only memory (ROM)
Stores specific instructions needed for computer operations.
Remote storage
Used to extend disk space on a server and eliminate the addition of more hard disks or other storage devices.
A general-purpose computer that can support a few users or hundreds of users; variations include file server, database server, and Web server.
Instructions or programs for controlling the computer.
Fastest type of computer; used for specialized applications to process enormous amounts of data.
Tablet PC
Personal computer similar in size and thickness to a notepad; used with a stylus or digital pen on a touch screen.
Circles on a magnetic storage device where data is stored or retrieved.
USB flash drive
Small removable solid-state storage device.