Some Basic Internet Terms
put into a system or expended in its operation to achieve output or a result
Anything that comes out of a computer.
perform operations on (data).
A computer device, such as a CD-ROM drive or printer, that is not part of the
Another term for display screen. The term monitor,
however, usually refers to the entire box, whereas display screen can mean just
the screen. In addition, the term monitor
often implies graphics capabilities.
a tap of the left mouse button
A tap of the right mouse button
Tapping a mouse button twice in rapid succession (usu. Left)
The set of typewriter-like keys that enables you to enter data into a computer
hard disk / hard drive-
A magnetic disk on which you can store computer data. The term hard
is used to distinguish it from a soft, or floppy,
disk. Hard disks hold more data and are faster than floppy disks.
the drive that runs a floppy disk
A type of optical disk capable of storing large amounts of data -- up to 1GB
a new type of CD-ROM that holds a minimum of 4.7GB
A device that connects a computer to a phone line
Internet Service Provider
The vast collection of inter-connected networks that are connected using the TCP/IP protocols and that evolved from the ARPANET of the late 60's and early 70's.The Internet connects tens
of thousands of independent networks into a vast global internet
and is probably the largest Wide Area
Network in the world.
A private network inside a company or
organization that uses the same kinds of software that you would find on the
public Internet, but that is only for
World Wide Web-
A system of Internet servers that support specially formatted documents. The
documents are formatted in a script called HTML (HyperText
Markup Language) that supports links to other documents, as well as
graphics, audio, and video files
domain name / internet domains- used to identify
computers on the Net. For example: .gov
identifies US Federal Government entities, .com
For commercial entities, which anyone, anywhere in the world, can register.
(more info: http://www.aboutdomains.com/News/basics.htm)
Markup Language, the authoring language used to create documents on the
World Wide Web.
A high-level programming language
Refers to Web content that changes each time it is viewed.
animated images or text
stands for graphics
a bit-mapped graphics file format used by the World Wide Web, CompuServe and
JPEG is a compression technique for
Bitmap graphics format (used in MS Paint & many other programs)
file extensions- identify
the type of a file. For example .html
identifies the file as readable by a web browser (more
A popular data compression format. Files that have been compressed with the ZIP
format are called ZIP files and
usually end with a .ZIP extension.
A device that prints text or illustrations on paper
A device that can read text or illustrations printed on paper and translate the
information into a form the computer can use.
Voice input systems can allow a person to access a computer without using a
keyboard or mouse.
an electronic signal which is either on or off (represented by 0 or 1)
a group of 8 bits grouped together
One MHz represents one million cycles per second.
instructions or data.
An organized list of instructions that, when executed, causes the computer to
behave in a predetermined manner.
The most important program that runs on a computer. Every general-purpose
computer must have an operating system to run other programs. Operating systems
perform basic tasks
Boot / Boot up-
To load the first piece of software that starts a computer
underlying hardware or software for a system (MAC, PC)
A program or group of programs designed for end users.
A very large and expensive computer capable of supporting hundreds, or even
thousands, of users simultaneously.
A midsize computer
Short for personal computer or IBM
small, portable computer -- small enough that it can sit on your lap.
A portable computer that is small enough to be held in one's hand.
Help desk professionals-
A department within a company that responds to user's technical questions. Most
large software companies have help desks to answer user questions.
For many companies, IS is the name of
the department responsible for computers, networking and data management.
the broad subject concerned with all aspects of managing and processing
information, especially within a large organization or company.
Web site designer-
Web site programmer-
programs websites, some design them as well
A small Java program that can be embedded in an HTML page. Applets differ from
full-fledged Java applications in that they are not allowed to access certain
resources on the local computer, such as files and serial devices (modems,
printers, etc.), and are prohibited from communicating with most other computers
across a network. The current rule is that an applet can only make an Internet
connection to the computer from which the applet was sent.
Also: HTML, Java
Archie- A tool (software) for finding files stored on anonymous FTP sites.
You need to know the exact file name or a substring of it.
ARPANet- (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network) -- The precursor to the
Internet. Developed in the late 60’s and early 70’s by the US Department of
Defense as an experiment in wide-area-networking that would survive a nuclear
ASCII- (American Standard Code for Information Interchange) -- This is the
de facto world-wide standard for the code numbers used by computers to represent
all the upper and lower-case Latin letters, numbers, punctuation, etc. There are
128 standard ASCII codes each of that can be represented by a 7 digit binary
number: 0000000 through 1111111.
Backbone- A high-speed line or series of connections that forms a major
pathway within a network. The term is relative, as a backbone in a small network
will likely be much smaller than many non-backbone lines in a large network.
Bandwidth- How much stuff you can send through a connection. Usually
measured in bits-per-second. A full page of English text is about 16,000 bits. A
fast modem can move about 15,000 bits in one second. Full-motion full-screen
video would require roughly 10,000,000 bits-per-second, depending on
Also: Bps , Bit , T-1
Baud- In common usage the baud rate of a modem is how many bits it can send
or receive per second. Technically, baud is the number of times per second that
the carrier signal shifts value - for example a 1200 bit-per-second modem
actually runs at 300 baud, but it moves 4 bits per baud (4 x 300 = 1200 bits per
Also: Bit , Modem
BBS- (Bulletin Board System) -- A computerized meeting and announcement
system that allows people to carry on discussions, upload and download files,
and make announcements without the people being connected to the computer at the
same time. There are many thousands (millions?) of BBS’s around the world,
most are very small, running on a single IBM clone PC with 1 or 2 phone lines.
Some are very large and the line between a BBS and a system like CompuServe gets
crossed at some point, but it is not clearly drawn.
Bit- (Binary digit) -- A single digit number in base-2, in other words,
either a 1 or a zero. The smallest unit of computerized data. Bandwidth is
usually measured in bits-per-second.
Browser- A Client program (software) that is used to look at various kinds
of Internet resources.
Byte- A set of Bits that represent a single character. Usually there are 8
Bits in a Byte, sometimes more, depending on how the measurement is being made.
Client- A software program that is used to contact and obtain data from a
Server software program on another computer, often across a great distance. Each
Client program is designed to work with one or more specific kinds of Server
programs, and each Server requires a specific kind of Client. A Web Browser is a
specific kind of Client.
Also: Browser, Server
Cookie- The most common meaning of “Cookie” on the Internet refers to a
piece of information sent by a Web Server to a Web Browser that the Browser
software is expected to save and to send back to the Server whenever the browser
makes additional requests from the Server.
are usually set to expire after a predetermined amount of time and are usually
saved in memory until the Browser software is closed down, at which time they
may be saved to disk if their “expire time” has not been reached.
do not read your hard drive and send your life story to the CIA, but they can be
used to gather more information about a user than would be possible without
Cyberspace- Term originated by author William Gibson in his novel
Neuromancer the word Cyberspace is currently used to describe the whole range of
information resources available through computer networks.
Domain Name- The unique name that identifies an Internet site. Domain Names
always have 2 or more parts, separated by dots. The part on the left is the most
specific, and the part on the right is the most general. A given machine may
have more than one Domain Name but a given Domain Name points to only one
machine. For example, the domain names:
Also: IP Number
E-mail- (Electronic Mail) -- Messages, usually text, sent from one person to
another via computer. E-mail can also be sent automatically to a large number of
addresses (Mailing List).
Ethernet- very common method of networking computers in a LAN. Ethernet will
handle about 10,000,000 bits-per-second and can be used with almost any kind of
Also: Bandwidth, LAN
Finger- An Internet software tool for locating people on other Internet
sites. Finger is also sometimes used to give access to non-personal information,
but the most common use is to see if a person has an account at a particular
sites do not allow incoming Finger requests, but many do.
Fire Wall- A combination of hardware and software that separates a LAN into
two or more parts for security purposes.
FTP- (File Transfer Protocol) -- A very common method of moving files
between two Internet sites. FTP is a special way to login to another Internet
site for the purposes of retrieving and/or sending files. There are many
Internet sites that have established publicly accessible repositories of
material that can be obtained using FTP, by logging in using the account name
anonymous, thus these sites are called anonymous ftp servers.
Gateway- The technical meaning is a hardware or software set-up that
translates between two dissimilar protocols, for example Prodigy has a gateway
that translates between its internal, proprietary e-mail format and Internet
e-mail format. Another, sloppier meaning of gateway is to describe any mechanism
for providing access to another system, e.g. AOL might be called a gateway to
GIF- (Graphic Interchange Format) -- A common format for image files,
especially suitable for images containing large areas of the same color. GIF
format files of simple images are often smaller than the same file would be if
stored in JPEG format, but GIF format does not store photographic images as well
Gigabyte- or 1024 Megabytes, depending on whom is measuring.
Gopher- A widely successful method of making menus of material available
over the Internet. Gopher is a Client and Server style program, which requires
that the user have a Gopher Client program. Although Gopher spread rapidly
across the globe in only a couple of years, it has been largely supplanted by
Hypertext, also known as WWW (World Wide Web). There are still thousands of
Gopher Servers on the Internet and we can expect they will remain for a while.
As used in reference to the World Wide Web, “hit,” means a single request
from a web browser for a single item from a web server.
Page (or Homepage)- Several meanings. Originally, the web pages that your
browser is set to use when it starts up. The more common meaning refers to the
main web page for a business, organization, person or simply the main page out
of a collection of web pages, e.g. “Check out so-and-so’s new Home Page.”
Host- Any computer on a network that is a repository for services available
to other computers on the network. It is quite common to have one host machine
provide several services, such as WWW and USENET.
HTML- (Hypertext Markup Language) -- The coding language used to create
Hypertext documents for use on the World Wide Web. HTML looks a lot like
old-fashioned typesetting code, where you surround a block of text with codes
that indicate how it should appear, additionally, in HTML you can specify that a
block of text, or a word, is linked to another file on the Internet. HTML files
are meant to be viewed using a World Wide Web Client Program, such as Netscape
HTTP- (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) -- The protocol for moving hypertext
files across the Internet. Requires an HTTP client program on one end, and an
HTTP server program on the other end. HTTP is the most important protocol used
in the World Wide Web (WWW).
Hypertext- Generally, any text that contains links to other documents -
words or phrases in the document that can be chosen by a
and which cause another document to be retrieved and displayed.
Internet- (Upper case I) The vast collection of inter-connected networks
that all use the TCP/IP protocols and that evolved from the ARPANET of the late
60’s and early 70’s. The Internet now (July 1995) connects roughly 60,000
independent networks into a vast global Internet.
Intranet- A private network inside a company or organization that uses the
same kinds of software that you would find on the public Internet, but that is
only for internal use.
IP Number- (Internet Protocol Number) -- Sometimes called a dotted quad. A
unique number consisting of 4 parts separated by dots.
126.96.36.199n Every machine that is on the Internet has a unique IP
number - if a machine does not have an IP number, it is not really on the
Internet. Most machines also have one or more Domain Names that are easier for
people to remember.
ISP- (Internet Service Provider) -- An institution that provides access to
the Internet in some form, usually for money.
Java- Java is a network-oriented programming language invented by Sun
Microsystems that is specifically designed for writing programs that can be
safely downloaded to your computer through the Internet and immediately run
without fear of viruses or other harm to your computer or files. Using small
Java programs (called "Applets"), Web pages can include functions such
as animations, calculators, and other fancy tricks.
pages, usually to add features that make the web page more interactive. When
and later versions of HTML (4.0 and later) the result is often called DHTML.
JPEG- (Joint Photographic Experts Group) -- JPEG is most commonly mentioned
as a format for image files. JPEG format is preferred to the GIF format for
photographic images as opposed to line art or simple logo art.
Kilobyte- A thousand bytes. Actually, usually 1024 (2^10) bytes.
LAN- (Local Area Network) -- A computer network limited to the immediate
area, usually the same building or floor of a building.
Leased Line- Refers to a phone line that is rented for exclusive 24-hour, 7
-days-a-week use from your location to another location. The highest speed data
connections require a leased line.
Listserv®- The most common kind of mail list, "Listserv" is a
registered trademark of L-Soft international, Inc. Listservs originated on
BITNET but they are now common on the Internet.
Login- Noun or a verb. Noun: The account name used to gain access to a
computer system. Not a secret (contrast with Password).
Mail list- (Or Mailing List) A (usually automated) system that allows people
to send e-mail to one address, whereupon their message is copied and sent to all
of the other subscribers to the mail list. In this way, people who have many
different kinds of e-mail access can participate in discussions together.
Megabyte- A million bytes. Actually, technically, 1024 kilobytes.
MIME- (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions) -- The standard for attaching
non-text files to standard Internet mail messages. Non-text files include
graphics, spreadsheets, formatted word-processor documents, sound files, etc.
Mirror- Generally speaking, “to mirror” is to maintain an exact copy of
something. Probably the most common use of the term on the Internet refers to
“mirror sites” which are web sites, or FTP sites that maintain exact copies
of material originated at another location, usually in order to provide more
widespread access to the resource.
Modem- (Modulator, Demodulator) -- A device that you connect to your
computer and to a phone line, that allows the computer to talk to other
computers through the phone system. Basically, modems do for computers what a
telephone does for humans.
Netiquette- The etiquette on the Internet.
Network- Any time you connect 2 or more computers together so that they can
share resources, you have a computer network. Connect 2 or more networks
together and you have an Internet.
Newsgroup- The name for discussion groups on USENET.
NNTP- (Network News Transport Protocol) -- The protocol used by client and
server software to carry USENET postings back and forth over a TCP/IP network.
If you are using any of the more common software such as Netscape, Nuntius,
Internet Explorer, etc. to participate in newsgroups then you are benefiting
from an NNTP connection.
Node- Any single computer connected to a network.
Packet Switching- The method used to move data around on the Internet. In
packet switching, all the data coming out of a machine is broken up into chunks,
each chunk has the address of where it came from and where it is going. This
enables chunks of data from many different sources to co-mingle on the same
lines, and be sorted and directed to different routes by special machines along
the way. This way many people can use the same lines at the same time.
A code used to gain access to a locked system. Good passwords contain letters
and non-letters and are not simple combinations such as virtue7. A good password
Plug-in- A (usually small) piece of software that adds features to a larger
piece of software. Common examples are plug-ins for the Netscape® browser and
web server. Adobe PhotoShop® also uses plug-ins.
Port- 3 meanings. First and most generally, a place where information goes
into or out of a computer, or both. E.g. the serial port on a personal computer
is where a modem would be connected.
Posting- A single message entered into a network communications system.
PPP- (Point to Point Protocol) -- Most well known as a protocol that allows
a computer to use a regular telephone line and a modem to make TCP/IP
connections and thus be really and truly on the Internet.
PSTN- (Public Switched Telephone Network) -- The regular old-fashioned
Router- A special-purpose computer (or software package) that handles the
connection between 2 or more networks. Routers spend all their time looking at
the destination addresses of the packets passing through them and deciding which
route to send them on.
Security Certificate- A chunk of information (often stored as a text file)
that is used by the SSL protocol to establish a secure connection. Security
Certificates contain information about which it belongs to, who it was issued
by, a unique serial number or other unique identification, valid dates, and an
encrypted “fingerprint” that can be used to verify the contents of the
Server- A computer, or a software package, that provides a specific kind of
service to client software running on other computers.
SLIP- (Serial Line Internet Protocol) -- A standard for using a regular
telephone line (a serial line) and a modem to connect a computer as a real
Internet site. SLIP is gradually being replaced by PPP.
Sysop- (System Operator) -- Anyone responsible for the physical operations
of a computer system or network resource.
T-1- A leased-line connection capable of carrying data at 1,544,000
bits-per-second. At maximum theoretical capacity, a T-1 line could move a
megabyte in less than 10 seconds. That is still not fast enough for full-screen,
full-motion video, for which you need at least 10,000,000 bits-per-second. T-1
is the fastest speed commonly used to connect networks to the Internet.
T-3- A leased-line connection capable of carrying data at 44,736,000
bits-per-second. This is more than enough to do full-screen, full-motion video.
TCP/IP- (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) -- This is the
suite of protocols that defines the Internet. Originally designed for the UNIX
operating system, TCP/IP software is now available for every major kind of
computer operating system. To be truly on the Internet, your computer must have
Telnet- The command and program used to login from one Internet site to
another. The telnet command/program gets you to the login: prompt of another
Terabyte- 1000 gigabytes.
Terminal- A device that allows you to send commands to a computer somewhere
else. At a minimum, this usually means a keyboard and a display screen and some
simple circuitry. Usually you will use terminal software in a personal computer
the software pretends to be (emulates) a physical terminal and allows you to
type commands to a computer somewhere else.
Terminal Server- A special purpose computer that has places to plug in many
modems on one side and a connection to a LAN or host machine on the other side.
Thus the terminal server does the work of answering the calls and passes the
connections on to the appropriate node. Most terminal servers can provide PPP or
SLIP services if connected to the Internet.
UNIX- A computer operating system (the basic software running on a computer,
underneath things likes word processors and spreadsheets). UNIX is designed to
be used by many people at the same time (it is multi-user) and has TCP/IP
built-in. It is the most common operating system for servers on the Internet.
URL- (Uniform Resource Locator) -- The standard way to give the address of
any resource on the Internet that is part of the World Wide Web (WWW). A URL
looks like this:
USENET- A worldwide system of discussion groups, with comments passed among
hundreds of thousands of machines. Not all USENET machines are on the Internet,
maybe half. USENET is completely decentralized, with over 10,000 discussion
areas, called newsgroups.
WAIS- (Wide Area Information Servers) -- A commercial software package that
allows the indexing of huge quantities of information, and then making those
indices searchable across networks such as the Internet. A prominent feature of
WAIS is that the search results are ranked (scored) according to how relevant
the hits are, and that subsequent searches can find more stuff like that last
batch and thus refine the search process.
WAN- (Wide Area Network) -- Any Internet or network that covers an area
larger than a single building or campus.
WWW- (World Wide Web) -- Frequently used (incorrectly) when referring to
"The Internet", WWW has two major meanings - First, loosely used: the
whole constellation of resources that can be accessed using Gopher, FTP, HTTP,
telnet, USENET, WAIS and some other tools. Second, the universe of hypertext
servers (HTTP servers) which are the servers that allows text, graphics, sound
files, etc. to be mixed together. ADN
Digital Network) -- Usually refers to a 56Kbps leased-line.
etc. to be mixed together.
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