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  • 1. COMPUTER CONCEPTS Vocabulary Chapter 1 Using Computers: Essential Concepts
  • 2. Central processing unit (CPU)
    • The main processing unit in a computer, consisting of circuitry that executes instructions to process data.
  • 3. Computer
    • A device that accepts input, processes data, stores data, and produces output.
  • 4. Data
    • In the context of computing and data management, data refers to the symbols that a computer uses to represent facts and ideas.
  • 5. Input
    • As a noun, "input" means the information that is conveyed to a computer.
    • As a verb, "input" means to enter data into a computer.
  • 6. Memory
    • The computer circuitry that holds data waiting to be processed.
  • 7. Output
    • The results produced by a computer (for example, reports, graphs, and music).
  • 8. Process
    • A systematic series of actions that a computer performs to manipulate data; typically represented on a DFD by a rounded rectangle.
  • 9. Storage
    • The area in a computer where data is retained on a permanent basis.
  • 10. Hardware
    • Electronic and mechanical devices used for input, output, processing, and storing data.
  • 11. Peripheral devices
    • Components and equipment that expand a computer's input, output, and storage capabilities, e.g., a printer or scanner.
  • 12. Software
    • The instructions that set up a computer to do a task, indicate how to interact with a user, and specify how to process data.
  • 13. Desktop microcomputer
    • A computer that is built around a single microprocessor chip and is small enough to fit on a desk.
  • 14. Microcomputer
    • A category of computer that is built around a single microprocessor chip. The computers typically used in homes and small businesses (also called a personal computer).
  • 15. Notebook computer
    • A small lightweight portable computer that usually runs on battery power. Sometimes called a laptop.
  • 16. Personal digital assistant (PDA)
    • A computer that is smaller and more portable than a notebook computer (also called a palm-top computer).
  • 17. Minicomputer
    • A midrange computer, somewhat larger than a microcomputer, that can carry out processing tasks for many simultaneous users.
  • 18. Terminal
    • A device with a keyboard and a monitor, used for input and output, but not for processing.
  • 19. Mainframe
    • A large, fast, and expensive computer generally used by businesses or the government to provide centralized storage processing and management for large amounts of data.
  • 20. Supercomputer
    • The fastest and most expensive type of computer, capable of processing more than one trillion instructions per second.
  • 21. CD-ROM disk
    • A high capacity read-only optical disk that can store up to 680 MB of data. An acronym for compact disc read-only memory.
  • 22. CD-ROM drive
    • A storage device that uses laser technology to read data from a CD-ROM.
  • 23. Disk drive
    • A computer storage device that records and retrieves data on disks. Drive types include floppy, Zip, and hard disk drives.
  • 24. DVD
    • An optical storage medium similar in appearance and technology to a CD-ROM but with higher storage capacity. The acronym stands for "digital video disc" or "digital versatile disc."
  • 25. DVD drive (Digital Video Disc)
    • An optical storage device that reads data from CD-ROM and DVD disks.
  • 26. Floppy disk
    • A removable magnetic storage medium, typically 3.5" in size with a capacity of 1.44 MB.
  • 27. Floppy disk drive
    • A storage device that writes data on, and reads data from, floppy disks.
  • 28. Hard disk drive
    • A computer storage device that contains a large-capacity "hard disk" sealed inside the drive case. A hard disk is not the same as a 3.5" removable disk that has a rigid plastic case.
  • 29. Keyboard
    • An arrangement of letter, number, and special function keys that acts as the primary input device to a computer.
  • 30. Monitor
    • A display device that forms an image by converting electrical signals from the computer into points of colored light on the screen.
  • 31. Mouse
    • An input device that allows the user to manipulate objects on the screen by moving the mouse on the surface of a desk.
  • 32. Storage media Storage medium
    • The physical material used to computer data, such as a floppy disk, a hard disk, or a CD-ROM.
  • 33. System unit
    • The case or box that contains the computer's power supply, storage devices, the main circuit board, processor, and memory.
  • 34. Compatible platforms
    • Computer brands or models that operate in essentially the same way, use the same software, and accept the same peripheral devices.
  • 35. Computer platform
    • A hardware and software configuration shared by a group of computers that use the same software and peripheral devices.
  • 36. Macintosh computer (Mac)
    • A microcomputer platform manufactured primarily by Apple Computer Inc. and based on a proprietary architecture.
  • 37. PC
    • 1) A microcomputer that uses the Windows software and contains an Intel-compatible micro-processor.
    • 2) A personal computer.
  • 38. Windows software
    • Software that has been designed to run on computers with the Windows operating system.
  • 39. Computer network
    • A collection of computers and related devices, connected in a way that allows them to share data, hardware, and software.
  • 40. Password
    • A special set of symbols used to restrict access to a user's computer or network.
  • 41. User ID
    • A combination of letters and numbers that serves as a user's "call sign" or identification. Also referred to as a user name.
  • 42. Internet
    • The worldwide communication infrastructure that links computer networks using TCP/IP protocol.
  • 43. Web
    • Short for World Wide Web. An Internet service that links documents and information from computers distributed all over the world. Uses HTTP protocol.
  • 44. User interface
    • The software and hardware that enable people to interact with computers.
  • 45. Prompt
    • A message displayed on the computer screen that asks for input from the user.
  • 46. Wizard
    • A sequence of dialog boxes that direct the user through multi-step software tasks, such as creating a graph.
  • 47. Command
    • An instruction that the user inputs into the computer to tell it to carry out a task.
  • 48. Command-line interface
    • A type of user interface that requires the user to type in commands.
  • 49. Parameter
    • A delimiting variable used to modify a command, i.e., /ON modifies the DIR command so it displays files in order by name.
  • 50. Syntax
    • Specifications or rules for the sequence and punctuation of command words and parameters.
  • 51. Syntax error
    • An error that results when an instruction does not follow the syntax rules, or grammar, of the programming language.
  • 52. Menu
    • A list of commands or options.
  • 53. Submenu
    • An additional menu of choices that appears when a menu option is selected.
  • 54. Check box
    • An on-screen box that allows the user to select options clicking the box.
  • 55. Dialog box
    • An on-screen window that provides options associated with a command.
  • 56. Drop-down list
    • A list of options that is displayed when the user clicks an arrow button.
  • 57. Option button
    • An on-screen control that allows a user to select one of two or more options in a dialog box. Also referred to as radio buttons.
  • 58. Spin box
    • A control within a graphical user inter- face that lets the user increase or decrease a number by clicking arrow buttons.
  • 59. Button
    • An on-screen user interface element that simulates the action of a push button. By clicking the button, a user initiates a command or action.
  • 60. Graphical object
    • A small picture on the computer screen that the user can manipulate, using a mouse or other input device.
  • 61. Icon
    • A graphical representation of an object such as a disk, printer, or program.
  • 62. Window
    • A rectangular representation of a work area in a graphical user interface.
  • 63. Graphical user interface (GUI)
    • A type of user interface that features on-screen objects such as menus and icons, manipulated by a mouse. Abbreviated GUI (pronounced "gooey").
  • 64. Pointer
    • A symbol on the computer screen, usually shaped like an arrow, whose movement corresponds to the movement of the mouse.
  • 65. Cursor
    • A symbol, usually an underline, that marks the user's place on the screen and shows where typing will appear.
  • 66. Function key
    • The keys numbered Fl through F12, located at the top of the computer keyboard, that activate program-specific commands.
  • 67. Insertion point
    • A flashing vertical bar that appears on the screen, indicating where the user can begin entering text.
  • 68. Keyboard shortcut
    • A combination of keys, such as Ctrl+C, that allows the user to activate a program function without clicking a series of menu options.
  • 69. Numeric keypad
    • A calculator-style input device for entering numbers and arithmetic symbols. Often part of a standard computer keyboard.
  • 70. Toggle key
    • A key such as the Caps Lock key that switches a device back and forth between two modes.
  • 71. Bitmap display
    • A monitor or other display device that uses an on-screen matrix of pixels to display text and graphics.
  • 72. Character-based display
    • Method of display in which the monitor screen is divided into a grid of rectangles, each of which can display a single character from the standard character set.
  • 73. Pixel
    • Short for picture element, a pixel is the smallest unit in a graphic image. Computer display devices use a matrix of pixels to display text and graphics.
  • 74. Resolution
    • The density of the grid used to display or print text and graphics. The greater the horizontal and vertical density, the higher the resolution.
  • 75. Online Help
    • On-screen documentation that is available to a user while a software application is running.
  • 76. Web browser software
    • Computer software, such as Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Internet Explorer, that allows users to view Web pages and follow links to jump from one document to the next.
  • 77. Web search engine
    • A feature of a Web site that allows users to search for information by entering key terms.
  • 78. Artificial intelligence (Al)
    • A characteristic of computers that exhibit human-like intelligence or behaviors. A field of research that includes robotics, expert systems, and speech recognition.
  • 79. Boolean string
    • A sequence of key words, field names and logical operators that specify a query.
  • 80. Computer program
    • A set of detailed, step-by-step instructions that tells a computer how to solve a problem or carry out a task.
  • 81. Return to Title Page
    • Prepared by James Q. Jacobs