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Computer Vocabulary A-Z

ZipTo zip a file is to compress it so that it occupies less space in storage and can be transferred quickly over the Internet.
AdwareA software application which displays unwanted pop-up advertisements on your computer while in use. Adware is often installed on your computer at the same time as free software or shareware.
Anti-virus softwareA program that finds and removes viruses from a computer.
ApplicationA program that helps the user accomplish a specific task; for example, a word processing program or a spreadsheet program. Application programs should be distinguished from system programs, which control the computer and run those application programs, and utilities, which are small assistance programs.
BackupA copy on floppy disk or tape of files on a PC's hard disk. A backup is used in case the hard disk file(s) are erased or damaged.
BIOSThe BIOS tells the computer how to boot up properly and load the operating system.
Bit, bytesA bit is the smallest piece of information that computers use. For simplicity, a PC uses bits in groups of 8 called bytes (8 bits = 1 byte).
Boot, boot up, boot diskYou boot (or boot up) your computer when you switch it on and wait while it prepares itself. Instructions for startup are given to the computer from the boot disk, which is usually the hard disk.
BrowserA program or tool such as Internet Explorer or Mozilla that enables you to browse or surf the World Wide Web and view internet sites.
BugA defect or fault in a computer program that prevents it from working correctly. Bugs are caused by mistakes or errors made by the people who write the program.
CacheA sort of fast memory used for temporary storage of recently accessed web pages,which enables the browser to display them more quickly on the next visit.
CD-ROMA disk for storing computer information. It looks like an audio CD.
Central processing Unit (CPU)The "brain" of the computer.
ChipAn integrated circuit. A thin piece of silicon that contains all the components of an electronic circuit.
ComputerAn electronic device used for processing data. The physical parts that make up a computer (the central processing unit, input, output, and memory) are called hardware. Programs that tell a computer what to do are called software.
CookiesA cookie is a small piece of information on the times and dates you have visited web sites. A web server can temporarily store this information within your browser. The main purpose of cookies is to identify users and possibly prepare customized web pages for them.
CrashA crash, in computing, is what happens when a program, or the entire operation system, unexpectedly stops working.
CursorA blinking symbol on the screen that shows where any new text will next be entered.
DesktopA Computer that sits on desk with separate monitor.
Disk driveA mechanism that holds, spins, reads, and writes either magnetic or optical disks.
DOSDisk Operating System. The original system used for PCs. You type in commands instead of pointing and clicking.
DriverA special program which enables a computer to work with a particular piece of hardware such as a printer.
DVDA type of optical disc that uses the same diameter as a CD and looks like a CD, but has a significantly higher storage capacity, sometimes more than 25 times the digital storage of a compact disc.
E-businessBusiness done over the internet or any internet-based network.
Electronic mail (email, e-mail)Messages sent from one computer to another. You can see email on the screen or print it out.
FAQFrequently asked questions
FirewallSpecialized hardware or software designed to prevent unrestricted or unauthorized use.
Floppy diskA cheap, removable disk used for storing or transferring information. It is floppy (soft) because it is plastic. See hard disk.
Floppy driveThe device used to run a floppy disk (usually drive 'A'.)
Folder (directory)A sub-division of a computer's hard disk into which you put files.
FontA particular sort of lettering (on the screen or on paper). Arial is a font. Times New Roman is another.
Graphics cardThe equipment inside a computer that creates the image on the screen.
Hard diskThe main disk inside a computer used for storing programs and information. It is hard because it is metal.
HardwareThe physical parts of the computer system that you can touch and feel such as the CPU (central processing unit), keyboard, monitor, and computer case.
HitA visit to a website.
Home pageThe main page or opening page that appears when you visit a web site. It usually contains links to the other pages.
HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language)The document format used on the Internet.
IconA small image or picture on a computer screen that is a symbol for folders, disks, peripherals, programs etc.
Information processingCapturing, storing, updating and retrieving data information.
InputThe data that is entered into a computer. The act of entering data into a computer.
Input devicesExamples : keyboard, mouse, joy stick, track ball, and scanner.
InternetInternational network of computers that you connect to by telephone line. Two popular services of the Internet are the World Wide Web and electronic mail.
Kb, Mb, GbKilobytes, megabytes, gigabytes. Used to measure computer memory and storage.
KeyboardA computer input device that uses a set of keys to put data into the computer.
LaptopA computer where hardware is all one unit (computer, keyboard and monitor).
Lock-upWhen a computer suddenly stops working. You can recover from this, and files will not be lost.
LoginProcess by which a user enters a name and password to access a computer.
MemoryA place to store information; see RAM, ROM.
MHzMegahertz. This describes the speed of computer equipment. The higher the MHz the better the performance.
MicroprocessorThe main processing unit of a computer or information processing device; acts as the "brain" on the machine carrying out instructions, performing calculations, and interacting with all the components used to operate the computer. Handles the fetch, decode, and execute steps of the computer system.
ModemEquipment connected to a computer for sending/receiving digital information by telephone line. You need a modem to connect to the Internet, to send electronic mail and to fax.
Motherboard (also called systemboard)The main circuit board of a computer housing the microprocessor and providing the means of connecting all the components
NetiquetteNetwork etiquette : a set of informal rules defining proper behavior on the Internet
NetworksMultiple computers linked together.
Operating SystemComputer software that controls the basic functions of your computer(IE: Windows 98 orXP, MacOS, UNIX, Linux)
OutputThe computer-generated information that is displayed to the user in some discernible form such as a screen display, printed page, or sound.
Output devicesExamples : monitor, printer, speakers, projector.
Parallel portA socket at the back of a computer for connecting external equipment or peripherals, especially printers.
PC cardA device that is the same size as a thick credit card, for plugging into a slot on notebook computers. You can buy memory, modems and hard disks as PC cards.
PeripheralAny equipment that is connected externally to a computer. For example, printers, scanners and modems are peripherals.
Personal computer (microcomputer)A computer that serves one user at a time.
PixelShort for picture element. A pixel is the smallest unit of visual information used to build an image on a computer or TV screen.
PortalA website that acts as a gateway or entry point to the internet (for example, Yahoo). Typically, a portal offers a search engine and links to other sites grouped into categories, as well as news or other services.
ProgramSoftware that operates a PC and does various things, such as writing text (word-processing program), keeping accounts (accounts program) and drawing pictures (graphics program).
ProviderCompany that provides access to the Internet.
QWERTYThe first 6 letters on English-language keyboards are QWERTY.
Random Access Memory (RAM)Temporary storage memory chips that form the computer’s primary workspace; contents are lost if the power is disrupted. This form of primary storage can be read and written to many times.
Read Only Memory (ROM)Storage memory chips that are able to maintain their contents if the power is disrupted. This form of primary storage chips has their stored content entered at the time of their fabrication and can be written to only once.
ResolutionThe number of dots or pixels per inch (sometimes per centimetre) used to create the screen image.
ScannerA computer input device that can read text, images and barcodes, and translate them into digital code.
Serial portSocket at the back of a PC for connecting peripherals.
ServerDesigned to support a computer network that allows user to share data, software and peripherals.
SoftwareA program, operating system, or code that tells the computer what to do.
SpamUnwanted, irrelevant or inappropriate e- mail messages, especially commercial advertising. Also referred to as "junk email".
SpywareSoftware that collects information, without your knowledge, about your web-surfing habits and uses it for marketing purposes. Very often contained in free downloads or shareware programs.
Start buttonThe start button, in the bottom left corner, is for opening new programs.
TaskbarThe taskbar, at the bottom of the screen, shows the programs in use.
TowerAn upright case with more room.
TrojanA Trojan is a computer program that is hidden in a useful software application and actually used to gain access to your computer. It then performs malicious actions such as displaying messages or erasing files. Trojans may be found in a hacked legitimate program or in free software .
URL (Uniform Resource Locator)the address that defines the route to a file on a Web server.
USB DriveA small, external drive that plugs into a USB Port used for storing documents, files and folders.
VirusA small, unauthorized program that can damage a PC.
WindowsAn operating system used by the majority of PCs. The current versions are Windows 98 and Windows NT.
World Wide Web, WWW, the WebWWW are initials that stand for World Wide Web. The Web is one of the services available on the Internet. It lets you access millions of pages through a system of links. Because it is 'world wide', it was originally called the World Wide Web or WWW.

Director of Student Activities and Keyboarding Teacher
Salesian High School
Richmond, CA

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