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Computer, Telephony & Electronics
Industry Glossary


1. The name of a sophisticated computer language commonly used for the creation of professional-grade applications. C is distinguished from other computer languages by its usage of pointers, variables that point at locations in memory. It was invented by Dennis Ritchie in the early 1970s. UNIX is primarily written in C.
This is the C version of "Hello World":
#include "stdio.h"
main() {
printf("Hello World!");
2. The worldwide abbreviation for Celsius.


As related to printing processes, an international envelope size, also known as ISO-C5. The size is 162 x 229 mm or 6.4 x 9.1 inches.


A computer language based on C that uses objected-oriented programming (OOP) design principles. The language is a product of Microsoft technology and is part of the Visual Studio Development package.

cable modem

A modem that connects to Cable TV to provide access to an online service or the Internet; it provides TV service also through a large bandwidth. This technology that is available in some parts of the country is associated with broadband and is usually much faster than common modem access. The telephone company counterpart is a (DSL) modem. See CABLEMODEMINFO.COM as a pretty good source of information.


1. Cache is a storage area for frequently accessed information. Retrieval of the information is faster from the cache than the originating source. There are many types of cache including RAM cache, secondary cache, disk cache, and cache memory to name a few. This is NOT to be associated with Cash (though it is pronounced the same). Most browsers utilize a cache area that is used to keep track of World Wide Web pages you've been to. When the pages are cached, returning to the pages is quicker. Other information is also kept there as well such as Cookies, and similar pseudo-intelligent information sources.
2. A cache is a system for storing frequently accessed information for faster response. Cache memory on your motherboard is extra-fast RAM that keeps a copy of the most recently requested bits from regular RAM. A 'caching proxy web server' keeps the most recently requested web documents stored locally, reducing response time from (often very slow) remote web sites.
3. Cache (usually SRAM) stores frequently requested data and instructions. It is a small block of high-speed memory located between the CPU and the main memory. When your computer processor needs data, it will check the Cache first to see if it is there. If the data is not there, it will retrieve it from the slower main memory.
4. The current cache generation is L2, or level 2.

cache memory

Also known as cache RAM; a small, high-speed memory device located between the CPU and the system DRAM. Cache is designed to supply the processor with the most frequently requested instructions and data. Cache memory can be three to five times faster than system DRAM. See cache.


A pair of words coined from acronyms, now part of the industry. CAD is short for Computer Aided Drawing and CAM is short for Computer Aided Manufacturing. AutoCAD is the leading piece of software in the industry. See the various options to AutoCAD at the AutoDesk website.


A tool used to do math. Some people think that they are the same as a computer. They can crunch numbers but the main difference is that a computer can take a logical branch in an operation while a calculator does not have logic as an operation. Here is one that you can use while online. Here are links for more calculators, converters and tables.


A section of most Portals that gives a viewer an opportunity to see a typical calendar view of events. Some are able to be modified by the user to show the user's own events. We have several calculators, converters and tables that deal with calendars and time in general.


In the printing industry, a process that adjusts the color, or black and white values in the image to compensate for changes that software packages and printers make to these values. For example, in a scanned image that is printed, notice the differences between printed image and original. Calibration rescans and makes adjustments to minimize these differences.


In the printing industry, a measure of thickness in various media.

call waiting, disabling

On phone systems with call waiting, an incoming call will usually cause a beep or other noise on the phone line. This noise can (and usually does) interrupt a modem session, just when your are 99% through a 10GB file! ZAPPO! It is recommended that call waiting be turned off before each session with the Internet or any modem connectivity activity. This can usually be accomplished simply by selecting the "Disable Call Waiting" option under the dialer's options on the sign on screen. The most common code is *70, (1170 for rotary/pulse dialers). Some systems use other codes. Check with your local phone service provider to be sure. Disabling call waiting in this manner only disables call waiting until the phone is hung up. As of July 2000, there are Internet call waiting services available in some parts of the country. These services do NOT crash your connection. They were developed to enable people to have only one telephone line in areas where there are "phone number" shortages.


An acronym for Campus Area Network. CAN is a network which involves interconnectivity between buildings in a set geographic area, such as a campus, major hospital, large corporate enterprise, industrial park, or other such non-public access environment.


1. An acronym for Carrierless Amplitude/Phase modulation. CAP is based on the QAM modulation described above, CAP stores segments of a modulated message in memory and reassembles the message in the transmitted wave. Because the message has been broken into segments, it contains no information, however at the receiver, the message is reassembled with all of the necessary information. CAP also increases the efficiency of the QAM signal transmissions. Although early testing of CAP deemed it a suitable modulation standard for ADSL, discrete multitone modulation (DMT) modems have been tested to perform faster than CAP modems and include less noise disturbances in transmission.
2. Industry jargon as an abbreviation for capacitor.
3. Industry slang for the maximum or high end limitation for something, such as an array in programming, a value of a variable or addressable memory.


Capacitance, in electricity, is the capability of a body, system, circuit, component or device for storing electric charge. Capacitance is expressed as the ratio of a stored charge in coulombs to the impressed potential difference in volts. The resulting unit of capacitance is designated as the farad. In an electric circuit the component device designed to store such an charge is called a capacitor. An ideal capacitor is one having no resistance and no inductance. The resulting characteristic is capacitance. See our Parallel Capacitance Calculator and our Series Capacitance Calculator to resolve values for such calculations.


A capacitor is a energy storing device (a component in electronics) made up generally of two parallel conductive plates separated by a dielectric insulating material. When a voltage is applied across the plates, the electric field in the dielectric displaces electric charges, and subsequently stores the energy involved. It is assumed ideally that there are no free charges in the dielectric, and that while they are displaced, they are not free or enabled to move around as in a conductor or semi-conductor. Dielectrics are categorized in two ways, polar and non-polar. Molecules where the center-of-gravity of the negative and positive charges are at the same point, are deemed non-polar. If that criteria is not met, the molecule is termed polar. H2O, water in molecular form, for example is polar, but H2 is non-polar. Based on that generalization, there are polarized and non-polar capacitors. The plates may be actual metal plates of various shapes but are most often in the form of metal foil or a metal film deposited (layered) on the insulating material. Since the first capacitor was invented, the Leyden jar, almost every conceivable dielectric material and form has been tried by someone. Wax, electrochemical films, plastics, ceramics, glass, oils, paper, minerals, air, and many others, either alone or as a unitized combination such as paper/wax, paper/epoxy, plastic/plastic, paper/oil, plastic/oil have been used. The quality and quantity of such storage is termed capacitance.


1. Acronym for Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing. Surveying using a computer-based questionnaire. As an alternative to paper questionnaires, CAPI allows the interviewer to customize the survey, so that respondents answer questions only about subjects they're familiar with and receive questions in a random order to avoid biases. CAPI also seeks to improve accessibility to data and to make the interviewing process more entertaining. Although traditionally used on individual PCs, CAPI is now also being administered on the Web. While on the net, it is disguised as polling, interviews or questionaire services, it is a blatant method of getting advertising information from you, often sold to advertisers for targeted marketing VIA E-Mail.
2. Also is short for Common (ISDN) Application Programming interface. An application programming interface (API) standard used to access ISDN equipment, equipment that use the integrated services digital network ISDN standard for the transfer of data over telephone lines. When an application wants to communicate with an ISDN card it sends a standard series of commands to the card. These commands form the CAPI standard and give developers and users a chance to use a well-defined mechanism for communications over ISDN lines without being forced to adjust to hardware idiosyncrasies. The same action is applicable to standard modems. For example, for 10 years or more, the common standard for modem characteristics has been the Hayes emulation. This is commonly known as the AT set of modem commands. A key string is sent to the modem to get its attention, then one or more commands are sent to tell it to do something. Anything not preceded by the ATtention sequence is considered as something sent OVER the modem connection or ISDN connection. This is also used with certain network cards.
3. An acronym for Computer Assisted Programming Interface; another name for a program generator. These programs were first made in the early days of Z80 microcomputers to create programs in BASIC for people that were not programmers. They have had only limited success in doing things beyond simple program creation. The current generation of these programs create web pages and websites. Because technology has evolved considerably and because more memory is available within computers, the ability to do more has also increased. Microsoft's Front Page is an example of this technology.

carbon transmitter

A telephony term. The microphone of a telephone handset which uses carbon granules and a diaphragm. The diaphragm responds to voice and varies the pressure on the granules and hence, their resistance.


An electronics industry term to designate a populated PCB (Printed Circuit Board) in a computer, phone, TV or other electrical unit. Sometimes a card is also called a board. See motherboard or mainboard.

carrier sheet

A printing industry term to describe the sheet to which labels are temporarily attached in order to go through a printer. Usually this sheet has a slick feeling or appears shiny. To be used after printing, labels must be peeled off the carrier sheet.

cartridge fonts

A printing industry term to describe the plastic unit containing a ROM that inserts into a printer. The cartridge contains fonts that are stored in ROM. The advantage of cartridge fonts is simplicity. Once the cartridge is inserted into the printer and the software is set up to call for the fonts on the cartridge, it can be considered a permanent part of the system. Font cartridges have an average lifetime of 500 insertions per cartridge. This was a commonly used technology in the 80s and early 90s but with the widely accepted use of TrueType fonts, it is not popular any longer.


1. A memory function; an acronym for Column Address Select. A control pin on a DRAM used to latch and activate a column address. The column selected on a DRAM is determined by the data present at the address pins when CAS becomes active. Often heard as CAS before RAS, or address the column before you address the row in a memory matrix.
2. In computer memory technology, CAS, Column Address Strobe, is a signal sent to a dynamic random access memory (DRAM) that tells it that an associated address is a column address. A data bit in DRAM is stored in a cell located by the intersection of a column address and a row address. A RAS (row address strobe or select) signal is used to validate the row address.


1. A series of reply posts to a USENET message, each adding a trivial or nonsense theme to the corpus of previous replies. Some consider this art; there is a USENET newsgroup devoted to propagating this self-expressive form (alt.cascade).
2. A method of displaying several windows of information on a monitor.
3. See CSS.

cascaded interrupt

An Interrupt Request line reserved by the system (in the original IBM PC architecture) for notifying the first interrupt controller that the second has received an interrupt signal. The technology was predominant in DOS systems and was used by VGA cards for the Vertical Retrace Interrupt, and the default IRQ setting for most jumper configurable ISA LAN cards. The cascade interrupt is 2 to 9, or 9 to 2. Since the advent of interrupt sharing, this is not a common scenario any longer.

Cat 1 or Category 1

Network cable. See twisted pair.

Cat 2 or Category 2

Network cable. See twisted pair.

Cat 3 or Category 3

Network cable. See twisted pair.

Cat 4 or Category 4

Network cable. See twisted pair.

Cat 5 or Category 5

Network cable. See twisted pair.

Cat 6 or Category 6

Network cable. See twisted pair.


This is the negative electrode in a circuit. It is commonly linked with diodes and CRTs; in fact it is the C in CRT. It is the opposite of anode.


An acronym for Constant Angular Velocity. This is the practice of rotating a disk, such as a hard disk or a floppy disk, at a constant speed. Since the length of the inner tracks are smaller than the outer tracks, the same clock frequency for recording causes the innermost track to be the most dense and the outermost track to be the least dense. This has been the methodology of choice for years on disk technology with only speed of rotation really making a change in the process. In order to utilize the space more efficiently, zoned CAV (ZCAV) breaks the disk into multiple zones and uses a different clock frequency for each zone. The innermost track of each zone is the most dense for that zone. Partial CAV (PCAV), also known as CAV/CLV, breaks the disk into only two zones. It varies the disk rotation (CLV) for the inner zone and then switches to constant speed (CAV) for the outer one. The opposite technology is CLV and ZCLV.


An acronym for Constant Bit Rate. Refers to the transmission properties that data, video and voice uphold when traversing a transport medium. Information traveling at a constant bit rate means there is no fluctuation in signal integrity. See also VBR.


Carbon Copy or Complimentary Copy. In E-Mail, the CC: box is used to send mail to people who should see the mail, but do not necessarily need to take action on it. Always wipe the smudges off the keyboard after you have read a carbon copy.


An acronym for Charge Coupled Device.


French acronym for the international standards organization. The "International Telegraph and Telephone Consultative Committee". Part of the United National International Telecommunications Union (ITU). This group sets international standards for the following:
Group 3: The universal protocol for sending FAX documents across telephone lines. The Group 3 protocol specifies CCITT T.4 data compression and a maximum transmission rate of 9,600 baud. There are two levels of resolution: 203 by 98 and 203 by 196.
Group 4: A protocol for sending fax documents over ISDN networks. The Group 4 protocol supports images of up to 400 dpi resolution.
V.21: The standard for full-duplex communication at 300 baud in Japan and Europe. In the United States, Bell 103 is used in place of V.21.
V.22: The standard for half-duplex communication at 1,200 bps in Japan and Europe. In the United States, the protocol defined by Bell 212A is more common.
V.22bis: The worldwide standard for full-duplex modems sending and receiving data across telephone lines at 1,200 or 2,400 bps.
V.29: The standard for half-duplex modems sending and receiving data across telephone lines at 1,200, 2,400, 4,800, or 9,600 bps. This is the protocol used by fax modems.
V.32: The standard for full-duplex modems sending and receiving data across phone lines at 4,800 or 9,600 bps. V.32 modems automatically adjust their transmission speeds based on the quality of the lines.
V.32bis: The V.32 protocol extended to speeds of 7,200, 12,000, and 14,400 bps.
V.34: The standard for full-duplex modems sending and receiving data across phone lines at up to 28,800 bps. V.34 modems automatically adjust their transmission speeds based on the quality of the lines.
V.42: An error-detection standard for high-speed modems. V.42 can be used with digital telephone networks. See MNP for a competing standard.
V.42bis: A data compression protocol that can enable modems to achieve a data transfer rate of 34,000 bps.
V.90: The standard for full-duplex modems sending and receiving data across phone lines at up to 56,600 bps.
V.92: The enhanced standard for V.90.
X.25: The most popular packet-switching protocol for LANs. Ethernet, for example, is based on the X.25 standard.
X.400: The universal protocol for E-Mail. X.400 defines the envelope for e-mail messages so all messages conform to a standard format.
X.500: An extension to X.400 that defines addressing formats so all E-Mail systems can be linked together.


1. An acronym for Charge-Coupled Device; an instrument whose semi-conductors are connected so that the output of one serves as the input of the next. Digital cameras, video cameras, and optical scanners all use CCD arrays.
2. A CCD converts light into analog signals. The part of a scanner that converts a reflected image to usable data.


Communications Control Language file, a file that dialers and browsers use to control the modem connection. These files should not be changed except by the supplied editor.


An industry acronym for Closed Circuit TeleVision.


1. Compact Disk-Read Only Memory, a storage medium popular in modern computers. The term often refers to both the drive and the media. The most common name for the media is CD. There are many speeds of drives in the local devices. One CD-ROM of current technology can hold 600+ MB of data. New technology on the cutting edge, though never standardized, can hold up to 10GB of information, audio or video. There are also read-write versions of this technology allowing complete duplication of a CD or using a CD write drive as an archival device. These drives can be called also CDR (CD Recordable). An even better variation is CDRW, which is a recordable and re-recordable technology.
2. Abbreviation for change directory, a command in both the UNIX and DOS operating systems that assists in navigating a hierarchical directory structure.


An Acronym for Copper Data Distribution Interface, a network technology capable of carrying data at 100 Mbps over unshielded twisted pair (UTP) cable. CDDI is a trade name of Crescendo Communications (acquired by Cisco Systems in 1993) and commonly used instead of the general term Twisted Pair Physical Layer Medium (TP-PMD). TP-PMD is the general ANSI standard name for this FDDI-like service. By definition, CDDI cable lengths are limited to 100 meters though, in practical use, distances much greater than that can be achieved.


See CD.


See CD.


A brand name for a line and family of low end Intel microprocessors originally introduced in June, 1998 and did not have the L2 cache as an operable function. Celeron CPU chips were originally based on the same architecture as the Pentium II microprocessor, but were designed for low cost and lower performance need PCs. They run at somewhat lower clock speeds and are not as expandable as Pentium II microprocessors. However, in recent models, great progress has been made in getting faster, low end chips. In 1999, models included a 128KB cache, which increased performance. As subsequent Pentium chips were introduced with larger caches, the 128KB cache was retained for Celerons. In 2004, the Celeron M was introduced, which is a Celeron/Centrino version of the Pentium M. Intel indicates that they will continue to manufacture the line. See Pentium.


1. Slang for a cellular phone. Also see SmartPhone.
2. The geographic area in which a particular call is handled by an individual cell station.
3. One particular area of a spreadsheet.


1. Tunes that are storable and playable on a cell phone, generally in .MP3 files format. See our list of cellular music providers. Also see SmartPhone.
2. The less than melodic sounds of prison.


A particular type of voice and data technology. As of 2006, analog cellular is almost phased out and virtually all systems are digital. A type of wireless phone. Also see SmartPhone.


A scale of temperature measurement used primarily in areas other than the United States; in the US, the Fahrenheit scale is most often used. For many years it was called Centigrade but was adopted as the standard term in 1948. It was in 1742 the Swedish astronomer Andres Celsius published a technical paper in the "Kungliga Swenska Wetenskaps Academiens Handlingar" (easy for YOU to say...it wasn't even easy for me to type), the Annals of the Royal Swedish Academy of Science, entitled "Observations on two persistent degrees on a thermometer". This paper is the origin of the Celsius temperature scale. In today's computer industry, all electrical components have a range of temperature within which they operate. The Celsius scale ranges from 0 to 100 degrees. As a quick reference without getting too technical, 0 is freezing and 100 is boiling. Most measurements worldwide and in the computer industry are in Celsius, except in the chip manufacturing process where Kelvin is used. If you are not sure of your Celsius, Fahrenheit, Kelvin, Réaumur, or Rankine, try our multi-scale, online temperature converter!

Central Office

A telephony term. See CO.

Central Processing Unit

See CPU.


A telephony term. A name for an umbrella service offering of the local telephone company. Customers lease a portion of the Central Office switch to create a centralized point of control and routing. In concept, Centrex is providing similar features to a PABX.


An early leader in the printing industry and the pioneer of the parallel interface. The industry standard parallel protocol interface was named after this company.


CF Card (also called CF memory card, Compact Flash Card) is a very small removable mass storage device. First introduced in 1994 by SanDisk Corporation, CF memory Cards weigh a half ounce and are the size of a matchbook. CF memory Card is the world's most popular removable mass storage device. CF memory Cards are designed with flash technology, a non-volatile storage solution that does not require a battery to retain data indefinitely. CompactFlash storage products are solid state, meaning they contain no moving parts, and provide users with much greater protection of their data than conventional magnetic disk drives. CF memory Cards are faster and more reliable and consume only five percent of the power required by small disk drives. CompactFlash technology has enhanced the lifestyle of millions of people. The products that use Compact Flash Cards include digital cameras, digital music players, desktop computers, handheld PCs (HPCs), personal communicators, Palm PCs, Auto PCs, digital voice recorders and photo printers.


Common Gateways Interface is a standard mechanism for extending Web server capability and functionality. They are commonly called scripts. A standard used by programmers that allows their programs to interact with the World Wide Web. A CGI program is any program designed to accept and return data that conforms to the CGI specification. CGI scripts can be written in many computer languages, including C, Perl, Java, or Visual Basic. Perl and C are the most common. CGI programs are the most common way for Web servers to interact dynamically with users. Many HTML pages that contain forms, for example, use a CGI program to process the form's data once it's submitted. Another increasingly common way to provide dynamic feedback for Web users is to include scripts or programs that run on the user's machine rather than the Web server. These programs can be Java applets, Java scripts, or ActiveX controls. These technologies are known collectively as client-side solutions, while the use of CGI is a server-side solution because the processing occurs on the Web server. One problem with CGI is that each time a CGI script is executed, a new process is started. For busy Web sites, this can slow down the server noticeably. A more efficient solution, but one that it is also more difficult to implement, is to use the server's API, such as ISAPI or NSAPI. Another increasingly popular solution is to use Java servlets.


1. A major area of an ISPs service, represented as a button on the main screen. Each channel usually represents a different topic or area of interest.
2. Also a term to describe the multi-level sales structure of the computer industry.
3. Microsoft's term for all the entries into the active desktop bar that is associated with IE4.X and higher, and Windows 98 and up.
4. The communications path in high bandwidth communications.
5. A generic term for a communications path on a given medium; multiplexing techniques allow providers to put multiple channels over a single medium. See also multiplexor.
6. An independent data path used for full-duplex transmission of customer data. In the industry common 3600 Series DSU (and compatibles) with MCMP, the user assigns one of six physical DTE ports (Ports 1 through 6) to each of the six available channels (Channels A through F).

channel service unit

See CSU.


Challenge Handshake Authorization Protocol. A strong authentication method used with PPP for user login. A type of authentication in which the authentication agent (typically a network server) sends the client program a key to be used to encrypt the username and password. This enables the username and password to be transmitted in an encrypted form to protect them against eavesdroppers. When using CHAP, the username/password is sent encrypted over the connection, preventing sniffing. See also PAP. Contrasts directly with PAP.


1. The battle cry of a new programmer.
2. An act of normalcy with all daughters, sons and wives. Works best with a credit card present.
3. An electrical property of particles, such as electrons and protons, which causes them at a given time to attract and repel each other. A material with an excess of electrons is defined to have a "negative" charge. They are also called N-type. In the reverse, material with an absence of electrons or an excess of protons is defined as "positive" or P-type. Materials with a balanced number of electrons and protons are called "neutral." Positive and negative charges attract each other. That attraction can cause interesting effects at the junction between positive and negative semi-conductors. This special junction is what makes the right configuration of semi-conductors work as a transistor or a diode.


1. Printable letters or symbols.
2. Most programmers, especially older ones; certainly assembler programmers.

character height

In printing, the height of the printed upper case letter, defined in points. One point is .014 inch.


A power supply for a laptop or portable computer that can run off of a battery.


A feature of some ISPs services that allows you to chart (track) stocks. Some brokerage houses that conduct business on line also offer this service to customers. Virtually all portals now provide this type of service.


A frame or housing for an electrical device such as a TV, stereo, power supply, computer or similar equipment.

Chassis Ground

A wire conductor that terminates on the chassis electrical purposes. It is generally the negative side of the circuit and is most important in direct current (DC) circuits.


An ISP offered feature that allows members to type messages to one another in a common window. The effect is very similar to chatting at a party. Utilities are now making this feature available across services and throughout the Internet.

chat history

A transcript of a chat session.

Chat Preferences

Preferences that control the way chat appears in a chat room. On an ISP provided service, this can be quite helpful as to what topics are considered and other user controlled preferences.

Chat Room

An area online where you can chat with other members in real time.

chatter's block

A condition characterized by excessive anxiety about sending chat messages. The chatter with chatter's block feels that every message he types in a chat must be perfectly worded and perfectly timed. By striving to meet these standards of perfection, the chatter constantly erases and rewords his messages, often deciding not to send the messages at all. The cure for chatter's block is to relax. Everyone in a chat is expressing (and typing) ideas quickly and no one will blink an eye at the odd typo.


An amazingly simple error detection scheme in which each transmitted message packet is accompanied by a numerical value based on the number of set bits in the message. The value is appended to the message and becomes a transparent part of the message. The receiving station then applies the same formula to the message and checks to make sure the accompanying numerical value is the same. If not, the receiver can assume that the message has been garbled and there is trouble in Gotham City. In a less complicated way, it is a mathematical calculation applied to the contents of a packet before and after it is sent. If the "before" calculation does not match the "after" calculation, there were errors in the transmission.


A component of network lag, most often caused by high traffic volume, chew is the percentage of packets that are 'eaten' or lost by the network connection. Ideally no packets should be lost, but the Internet is often anything but ideal. The Internet Lost and Found Department was lost and never found.

child device

A component of substructure to another. An addition to another card, such as a daughter card on a video card. Any card in reality that depends on another of higher structure, such as plugging into a motherboard. The term is also used in chip family sets, such as from Intel and other companies. Certain chip sets require the ability of other chip sets to operate. The are often called family or child devices, sons or fathers. The male designation is for components and the female designation is for cards or boards. See AMR.


1. A small piece of semi-conducting material (usually silicon) on which an integrated circuit is embedded. A typical chip is less than 1/4 square inches and can contain millions of electronic components (transistors). Computers consist of many chips placed on electronic boards called printed circuit boards. There are different types of chips. For example, CPU chips (also called microprocessors) contain an entire processing unit, whereas memory chips contain blank memory. Chips come in a variety of packages. The three most common are:
DIPs: Dual in-line packages are the traditional bug-like chips that have anywhere from 8 to 40 legs, evenly divided in two rows.
PGAs: Pin-grid arrays are square chips in which the pins are arranged in concentric squares.
SIPs: Single in-line packages are chips that have just one row of legs in a straight line like a comb.
In addition to these types of chips, there are also single in-line memory modules (SIMMs), which consist of up to nine chips packaged as a single unit, and dual in-line memory modules (DIMMs), which can have up to twice as many chips as SIMMs. The modules also have different configuration as to how they engage the host board.
2. Something that many computer people carry around on the shoulder.


A group of chips (integrated circuits or ICs) that work together to do a job. This type of design work allows functions to work at an optimum condition. The idea was pioneered by Intel and here is information of the 965 Express Chipset Fmily from them.


The Unix "change mode" command defines the protection or permissions for a file or program. An example of the command is "chmod 666 file.data". See our UNIX Server CHMOD Calculator or our UNIX Server Detailed CHMOD Calculator for additional information.


1. A coil for a particular frequency range.
2. A network slang term for an overactive network condition.


The Unix "change owner" command defines the ownership of a file. An example of the command is "chown nobody file.data".


The turnover of users on an online service, especially after the expiration of a free trial period.


Describes a computer taking a long time to process a particular operation. When a computer is churning, it may seem to be doing nothing.


An acronym for Customer Information Control System, a TP monitor from IBM that was originally developed in the late 1960s to provide transaction processing for IBM mainframes. In reality it is a software layer. It controls the software interaction between applications and users and lets programmers develop detailed application screen displays without detailed knowledge of the terminals being used. In order to be downward compatible with previous mainframe connectivity, CICS hosting is also available on smaller, non-mainframe platforms including the RS/6000, AS/400 and OS/2 operating system based PCs. More from IBM on the newer generation of CICS.


A telephony term and an acronym for Caller-ID, a system by which the calling-party number (and sometimes the name and called-number) is transmitted to the called party. Similar to, but less powerful than ANI. The exact details of the service provided and the information given is determined by the phone company providing your local service. More from Verizon (formerly GTE) on CID.


Classless InterDomain Routing, a technique supported by BGP-4 allowing routing between multiple independent networks.


An acronym for Common Internet File System, a public domain standard that was established and created by Microsoft after its own SMBP.


By definition, go around. An electrical path, usually connected to an electricity source. Each circuit has a job in an overall operation. As an example, there may be multiple circuits in a TV. One would take care of video; one audio. Sometimes, a circuit is just a wire, such as a phone line.

circuit board

A one or more layered piece of non-conductive material, holding one or more electronic circuits on it. See mainboard as an example.

circuit breaker

A device which detects excessive power demands in a circuit and self-interrupts when they occur, causing the circuit to open. See fuse.

circular mils

A measurement; the circular mil is a unit of area used especially when denoting the cross-sectional size of a wire or cable. It is the equivalent area of a circle whose diameter is 0.001 (10-3) inch, or approximately 0.7854 millionths of a square inch (or 2.5 x 10-7 times pi).

circuit switching

A switching system that establishes a dedicated physical communications connection between end points (called a circuit), through the network, for the duration of the communications session; this is most often contrasted with packet switching in data communications transmissions. See also packet switching.


Short for CompuServe Information Service, now owned by Gateway Computer. CIS has a larger international membership than other US based services. In February of 1998, after great financial struggles, AOL purchased the remnants of it and looked for a way to take advantage of two diverse organizations doing the same thing. AOL had plans to intelligently merge the two services to make the best use of hardware and connectivity. It didn't work as planned but that is one of the many unusual moves AOL has made. I guess If you have gazillions of dollars at your disposal, you can do that sort of thing. They are presently in the beginnings of a "new beginning" being an ISP, a starting page and an information source for the Internet. MCI has also developed a relationship with them. Check out Compuserve on the Internet at HTTP://WWW.COMPUSERVE.COM.


Pronounced sisk, and stands for complex instruction set computer. Most personal computers, use a CISC architecture, in which the CPU supports as many as two hundred instructions. An alternative architecture, used by many workstations and also some personal computers, is RISC (reduced instruction set computer), which supports fewer instructions.


Cisco Systems, an industry leader in networking. See them at HTTP://WWW.CISCO.COM.


The Commercial Internet Exchange is a trade association of Internet connectivity providers.


1. Any computer system that requests a service of another computer system. A workstation requesting the contents of a file from a file server is a client of the file server.
2. A software program or computer that requests information from another computer. Your ISP provided software, such as AOL, MSN or CIS is a client which requests information from the host or a major service. Your computer is an Internet client. They, and other servicers are hosts.
3. The software that allows stations on a network to log on to the network and do functions that are threaded within that particular type of network. Examples are a Novell client or a Microsoft client. How they are written and by whom also dictates what they are able to accomplish. For example the Novell client by Microsoft will allow users with the proper security to log onto a Novell network but will not allow them to do all the things that the Novell client by Novell. Some strong applications software will ONLY work with a particular client software.
4. In the world of consulting, the person who pays the bills and is usually right!

client server model

A network configuration in which one computer, designated as a "server", sends information and provides services to a number of other "client" computers. Most sophisticated network operating systems (NOS) are such. Examples are Novell and (Windows) NT. See client and server. A different technology for sharing files is peer-to-peer architecture.


A designated memory holding area that temporarily stores information copied or cut from a document, or files for transfer. Both the Macintosh and Windows operating systems support this feature.


1. A consistent, periodic signal used to step logic information through a computer circuit.
2. The hardware and software in a computer required to maintain the perpetual time of day and calendar.
3. We have lots of them online for your use and entertainment. If you are looking for a "good time", try here...

clock rate

The number of pulses emitted from a computer's clock in one second. This determines the rate at which logical or arithmetic gating is performed in a synchronous computer.

Clubs & Interests

A channel or area of online services that features information and discussion of a wide variety of topics. These are virtual organizations of mutual interests.


The process of connecting two or more computers together in such a way that they behave like a single computer. Clustering is used for system parallel processing, for load balancing and for fault tolerance. FT is for redundancy rather than sharing or balancing. Clustering is a popular strategy for implementing parallel processing applications because it enables companies to leverage the investment already made in PCs and workstations. In addition, it's relatively easy to add new CPUs simply by adding a new PC to the network. Microsoft's clustering solution for Windows NT systems is called MSCS. Novell is the defacto standard for this network technology.
The theory of clustering has been available since the 1960s when IBM set out the idea to amplify computing power of early mainframe systems however the cost seemed prohibitive. In practice, the concept came to life in the 1980s when it was used by DEC in VMS systems equipped with special controllers and software. IBM's reapproaced the idea with Sysplex as a clustering approach for some mainframe systems. Microsoft, Sun Microsystems, and other leading computer makers all offer clustering packages comprised of software and system controller that are said to offer scalability as well as availability. As system need increases, all or some parts of the integrated cluster can be increased in size or number.


An acronym for Constant Linear Velocity. A technology which revolves around (no pun intended) rotating a disk at varying speeds. By changing rotation speed depending on which track is being accessed, the density of bits in each track can be made uniform. This allows the outer tracks to hold more data than the inner tracks, since they are obviously larger, and fully utilizes the available disk space. CLV is used on optical media such as CDs and DVDs. In functional practice, the rotation does not change exactly or precisely from every track to the next. A data buffer provides some flexibility for changing speed across some specified number of tracks. The most common form of change is called zoning. Zoned CLV (ZCLV) breaks the disk into several zones (typically 24 on a DVD-RAM disk) and changes the speed within each zone rather than uniformly across the entire platter. This technology is the opposite of CAV.


An acronym for Circular Mil Area, a measurement. A unit of area equal to the area of a circle whose diameter is 1 mil (0.001 inch). Used chiefly in specifying cross-sectional areas of conductors. To obtain the number of circular mils in a round solid wire of a given diameter, express the diameter in mils then square it. The CMA formula for stranded conductor is to square the mil diameter of one strand then multiply by the number of strands. See CMIL, also see KCMIL and AWG.


CMIL is a unit of measure, most often used to define the area of a wire. The area of a circle one one-thousandth (0.001) inches in diameter. See CMA, also see KCMIL and AWG.


1. An acronym for Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor. CMOS is a widely used type of semiconductor. CMOS semiconductors use both NMOS (negative polarity) and PMOS (positive polarity) circuits. At any given time, only one of the circuit types is on. Beneficially, CMOS chips require less power than chips using just one type of transistor. This makes them exceptionally attractive for use in virtually all battery powered devices, such as portable computers, PDAs and cellular devices. Personal computers also contain a small amount of battery powered CMOS memory to hold the date, time, and system setup parameters. Access of these parameters is through the BIOS or system setup function of the computer.
2. A transistor technology. One use of CMOS is for low power memory that stores information about configurations. CMOS technology is very sensitive to static electricity.


CMYK is a scheme for combining primary color pigments. The C stands for cyan (aqua), M stands for magenta (pink), Y is yellow, and K stands for black. The CMYK pigment model works like an "upside-down" version of the RGB (red, green, and blue) color model. Many paint and draw programs can make use of either the RGB or the CMYK model. The RGB scheme is used mainly for computer displays, while the CMYK model is used for printed color illustrations (hard copy). There is a fundamental difference between color and pigment. Color represents energy radiated by a luminous object such as a cathode ray tube (CRT) or a light-emitting diode (LED). The primary colors are red (R), green (G), and blue (B). When you see a red area on a CRT, it looks red because it radiates a large amount of light in the red portion of the electromagnetic radiation spectrum (around 750 nanometers), and much less at other wavelength. Pigments, as opposed to colors, represent energy that is not absorbed by a substance such as ink or paint. The primary pigments are cyan (C), magenta (M), and yellow (Y). Sometimes black (K) is also considered a primary pigment, although black can be obtained by combining pure cyan, magenta, and yellow in equal and large amounts. When you see yellow ink on a page, it looks yellow because it absorbs most energy at all visible wavelengths except in the yellow portion of the spectrum (around 600 nanometers), where most of the energy is reflected. The primary pigments and the primary colors are mathematically related. Any two pure radiant primary colors (R, G, or B), when combined, produce radiation having the appearance of one of the pure non-black primary pigments (C, M, or Y). Any two pure non-black primary pigments, when mixed, produce a substance having the appearance of one of the pure primary colors. The primary colors RGB, combined at 100-percent brilliance, produce white. The primary pigments CMY, combined at maximum concentration, produce black. Shades of gray result from equal (but not maximum) brilliances of R, G, and B, or from equal (but not maximum) concentrations of C, M, and Y. If you have a paint or draw program such as CorelDRAW! that employs both the RGB and the CMYK schemes, you can investigate these relationships by filling in regions with solid colors using one mode, and examining the equivalent in the other mode. After a while you will develop an intuitive sense of how these schemes work, how they resemble each other, and how they differ. In general, the RGB mode should be used when preparing graphics intended mainly for viewing on computer displays. The CMYK mode should be used when creating illustrations for print media.


Certified Novell Engineer. Often used to mean, Certified Network Engineer. A certification initiated by Novell to qualify certain individuals that have demonstrated high standards of knowledge in the areas of hardware used in and software configuration of the Novell Network operating system. The process has been expanded to CNE certifications on versions of Novell software. The awarding of the certifications is a lengthy process involving many independent study courses and examinations. The cost is high but usually shows that an individual holding such a certification is knowledgeable and is an industry professional. This certification has spawned an entire industry of certification and study processes, most of which are for Microsoft certifications. The general equivalent of CNE within the Microsoft network line is MCSE, Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer.


An acronym for CalliNG. This is a telephony and FAX signal. An 1100 Hz, .5 second tone generated every 3.5 seconds by fax machines to tell the other equipment they are the transmitter and that the other equipment should negotiate a speed and be prepared to accept the signals. See FAX.


1. A telephony term that is shorthand for Central Office. It is the location of Telco housed equipment for the area.
2. Where telephone companies terminate customer lines and locate switching equipment to interconnect those lines with other networks.


COBOL (COmmon Business Oriented Language) was one of the earliest high-level programming languages. It was developed in 1959 by a group of computer professionals called the Conference on Data Systems Languages (CODASYL). The credit is usually give to Commodore Grace Murray Hopper, affectionately known as the Mother of COBOL. Since 1959 it has undergone several modifications and many needed improvements, as warranted by technology changes. In an attempt to overcome the problem of incompatibility between different versions of COBOL, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) developed a standard form of the language in 1968. This version was known as American National Standard (ANS) COBOL. In 1974, ANSI published a revised version of (ANS) COBOL, containing a number of features that were not in the 1968 version. In 1985, ANSI published still another revised version that had new features not in the 1974 standard. The language continues to evolve today. Object-oriented COBOL is a subset of COBOL 97, which is the fourth edition in the continuing evolution of ANSI/ISO standard COBOL. COBOL 97 includes conventional improvements as well as object-oriented features. Like the C++ programming language, object-oriented COBOL compilers are available even as the language moves toward standardization.


Short for coaxial cable. Cable consisting of a hollow outer cylindrical conductor that surrounds a single inner wire conductor. Two types of coaxial cable are currently used in LANs. The first is 50 ohm cable, RG-58, which is used for digital signaling, and 75 ohm cable, RG-59, which is used for analog signaling and high speed digital signaling. There are several other types and designations of coax but these are the most common.


A telephony acronym; a coder/decoder device that converts video signals to/from digital for data transmission. The equivalent of a video modem.


The Component Object modEl, the fundamental class of Microsoft's attempt to defuse the growth of Java platform-independent code. This is the source of the problem that has caused the difficulty between Sun and the Java community and Microsoft. Microsoft is presently re-creating code in a pure Java environment so that it will NOT be platform dependent. See "giant step backwards".


The intensity of the magnetic field needed to reduce the magnetization of a ferromagnetic material to zero after it has reached saturation.


The foundational inductor.

cold start

This is the industry term given to the process of initializing the start-up conditions in a computer. The cold start process assumes no previous activity in the computer; in other words it has been powered off. All registers in the machine are set to initial conditions and the power-on self-test is conducted in its entirety.


One of the pins on a transistor, along with emitter and base. The collector is the point the transistor connects to the main circuit voltage and is the voltage entry point into the transistor.


1. The error that occurs on networks two nodes transmit at the same time. Most collisions are handled by an error correction routine; if not an error message is set to the nodes involved and the error must be manually handled. See CSMA/CD.
2. The situation that occurs when two or more network devices or nodes attempt to send a signal along the same channel at the same time. The result of a collision is generally a garbled message. All computer networks require some sort of mechanism to either prevent collisions altogether or to recover from collisions when they do occur and are observed by a collision detection routine.

collision detection

The process by which a node on a network monitors the communications line to determine when a collision (two nodes attempting to transmit at the same time) has occurred. See CSMA/CD.


As in Netscape Communicator

commercial online service

A computer network that supplies its members with access to chat rooms, bulletin boards, and other online content on a monthly fee basis. Commercial online services include America Online, CompuServe, The Microsoft Network, and Prodigy. In addition to their own proprietary content, most commercial online services also provide access to the Internet.

Common Gateway Interface - CGI

See CGI.

CompactFlash or CF

An industry standard for small mass storage devices (memory cards), generally used in digital cameras (but not always) and part of a generic category of media called Digital Flash Media (DFM). CF is somewhat similar to PCMCIA in functionality but is only available as a storage device or an I/O device. It comes in three flavors, CF Type I, CF Type II and CF I/O. First introduced in 1994, CompactFlash cards weigh a half ounce and are the size of a matchbook. They provide complete PCMCIA-ATA functionality and compatibility. At 43mm (1.7") x 36mm (1.4") x 3.3mm (0.13"), the CF Type I card's thickness is less than one-half of a current PCMCIA Type II card. It is actually one-fourth the volume of a PCMCIA card. Compared to a 68-pin PCMCIA card, a CF card has 50 pins but still conforms to ATA specs. It can be easily slipped into a passive 68-pin PCMCIA Type II to CF Type I adapter that fully meets PCMCIA electrical and mechanical interface specifications. At 43mm (1.7") x 36mm (1.4") x 5mm (0.19"), the CF Type II card's thickness is equal to a current PCMCIA Type II card. It is actually less than one-half the volume of a PCMCIA card. Compared to a 68-pin PCMCIA card, a CF card has 50 pins but still conforms to ATA specs. It can be easily slipped into a passive 68-pin PCMCIA Type II to CF Type II adapter that fully meets PCMCIA electrical and mechanical interface specifications. The only difference between CF Type I and CF Type II cards is the card thickness. CF Type I is 3.3 mm thick and CF Type II cards are 5mm thick. A CF Type I card will operate in a CF Type I or CF Type II slot. A CF Type II card will only fit in a CF Type II slot. The electrical interfaces are identical. CompactFlash is available in both CF Type I and CF Type II cards, though predominantly in CF Type I cards. The Microdrive is a CF Type II card. Most CF I/O cards are CF Type I, but there are some CF Type II I/O cards. CompactFlash cards are designed with flash technology, a non-volatile storage solution that does not require a battery to retain data indefinitely. The CompactFlash card specification version 2.0 supports data rates up to 16MB/sec and capacities up to 137GB. CompactFlash storage products are solid state, meaning they contain no moving parts, and provide users with much greater protection of their data than conventional magnetic disk drives. They are five to ten times more rugged and reliable than disk drives including those found in PC Card Type III products. CF cards consume only five percent of the power required by small disk drives. CompactFlash cards support both 3.3V and 5V operation and can be interchanged between 3.3V and 5V systems. This means that any CF card can operate at either voltage. Other small form factor flash cards may be available to operate at 3.3V or 5V, but any single card can operate at only one of the voltages. CF data storage cards are also available using magnetic disk (Microdrive). CF I/O cards include modems, Ethernet, 802.aab WiFi, serial, Bluetooth wireless, digital phone cards, USB, laser scanners, VGA, and the like. The connector used with CF and CompactFlash is similar to the PCMCIA Card connector, but with 50 pins. Years of field experience in portable devices have proven the reliability and durability of this connector in applications where frequent insertions and ejections of the card are required. Other small form factor flash cards use connector technology that is not reliable or durable in these applications. More details are available at HTTP://WWW.COMPACTFLASH.ORG.


Computer industry giant, Compaq Computer, since 2002, owned by Hewlett Packard (HP). See them at HTTP://WWW.COMPAQ.COM or HTTP://WWW.HP.COM.


A particular type of operational amplifier (op-amp) which has an output that is either on or off. It is a type of switch, but has two inputs, one for what is being measured and the other being a reference point. The comparator will normally switch on when the input is less than the reference. An example would be in a thermostat. Then input would be given by a thermistor and the reference would come from a variable resistor. This allows the actual switching temperature to be altered.


To have a computer translate code written in a computer language into an executable form. This is usually done by a specific translator program called a compiler. There are compilers for virtually every language on every platform. Those that create code on one platform for use on another are called cross compilers. Compilers take code written in a particular syntax and usually convert it to binary, machine code instructions.


A software application that translates English-like commands into machine language so that the computer can understand it. There are compilers for virtually every language on every platform. Those that create code on one platform for use on another are called cross compilers. Compilers take code written in a particular syntax and usually convert it to binary, machine code instructions.


A generic term given to a piece of hardware or software that is a description of an effort to meet or fall within a set of standards or guidelines in the creation and production of the product. In the case of software, other software that was also compliant to the same set of standards should not conflict with each other. In the case of hardware, software written to be compliant with the hardware standards should work without knowing any more about the hardware. Generally speaking, compliant drivers WORK but may not be as efficient as drivers written specifically for something.


1. A small binary object or program that performs a specific function and is designed in such a way to easily operate with other components and applications. Increasingly, the term is being used interchangeably with applet.
2. A part of a device, board or hardware module. A chip, transistor, diode or similar electrical device.

component video

A TV camera outputs a video signal that is split into the three primary colors; red, green and blue known in the industry as RGB. The whole color spectrum can be represented by varying degrees of these three colors. This RGB signal needs to be modified before it can be further processed or broadcast. The RGB signal has two specific problems associated with it in the professional video world. Firstly, it has a very high bandwidth. Secondly, the color and the black and white picture information are combined within the RGB signal. This is dealt with in the professional video world by converting the RGB signal into a component signal, also referred to as a YPbPr or YCbCr signal. The Y component of this signal is the black and white information contained within the original RGB signal. The Pb and Pr signals are color difference signals, which are mathematically calculated from the original RGB signal. For this definition, it is sufficient to understand that the Y signal contains full bandwidth black and white picture information, and the color difference signals contain bandwidth reduced color information. It is important to realize that component video output and RGB video output are not the same and are not directly compatible with each other; however, they are easily converted either way using a transcoder. Note that transcoders are generally very high end video equipment and are priced at the high end as well. DVD stores a component video signal in digital format. Since this is the native video format that is stored on DVD, this is also the best format to use to display the picture, if your equipment is capable of dealing with this type of signal. Many DVD players are capable of converting their native component signal to an RGB signal, but this varies on a player-by-player basis. Unfortunately the great majority of us cannot take advantage of this format. The designers of the DVD format anticipated this, and made allowances for it in the specification. All DVD players are capable of "downconverting" a component video signal into a more suitable format for display on the current generation of consumer display devices. The first such "downconversion" step is to S-Video, which is a connector that is found on any DVD player. Remember that the component video signal is split into three parts; black and white information (Y), and two color difference signals (Pb and Pr). The S-Video connection keeps the all-important black and white (Y) information separate, and combines the color difference signals into a single color signal (C). Instead of three separate signals going to the display device, there are now two separate signals. As you would expect, combining the two color signals results in a degradation of the color information, though more or less minor.

compose mail

This option allows you to create electronic mail and send it to people on the Internet. Most browsers or mailers allow both online and offline composition.


A term created by Apple Computer, Inc. that describes a memory module that uses older 4-Mbit technology. For a given capacity, a composite module will have more chips than a non-composite module.

composite video

Conventional TV video format, as used for years on all VHS tape players. If your display device doesn't have an RGB, component or S-Video input, then the "downconvert" process goes to composite video. As its name implies, composite video is a single video signal that is a composite of the black and white information (Y) and the color information (C) signals. This is the same type of signal that the industry has been using prior to the advent of DVD to connect up our laserdisc players or VCRs. Composite video signals have a number of unavoidable image problems because of inherent limitations of the PAL and NTSC systems. The major problem is, once the color (C) and the black and white (Y) information have been put together, they can no longer be perfectly separated due to fundamental design limitations of the two systems.


1. A technology, pioneered by Phil Katz, that reduces the size of a file. Compression programs like PKZip (see PKUnzip, WinZip and UNIX compress are valuable to network users because they help save both time and bandwidth.
2. A method of creating additional space on a hard disk. While this generally works satisfactorily, there are complications. The technology is provided on W95 and W95 platforms but is NOT recommended by Microsoft. Go figure...
3. To make a file smaller by applying a compression algorithm, usually for the purpose of conserving space or speeding up file transfers. This can also refer to the UNIX command to compress a file which appends '.Z' to the filename, '.gz' or to the free GNU enhanced version, gzip.
3. The act of sampling and reducing a signal for the purposes of saving storage or transmission capacity. (MPEG1 and MPEG2 are two key encoding and compression algorithms that enable full motion video over smaller bandwidth circuits, such as those offered by ADSL, SDSL, and HDSL.)


To access or disclose information without authorization.


See CIS.


1. A machine to do calculations and logic decisions.


The jargon and buzz words of the computer industry. Often used by the geeks and nerds to demonstrate their knowledge of the industry to those that are not familiar with the details of computers.

computer history

See a reasonable time line of computer history.


The act of making a non-computer task work on a computer.

computer literacy

Knowledge about and the ability to learn about computers. Such knowledge while a luxury in years past, will be a foundational level skill for today's generation coming through the educational system. Basic computer skills are mandatory. You do not need to be a "nerd" to have basic computer literacy.

computer language

A type of code used by programmers to create computer programs. Many various types of computer language exist like cobol, fortran, BASIC, RPG, assembler, C and APL. Some of the more popular languages that are used to write games, applications, and webpages are C++, BASIC, and HTML. Each language has a set of commands and functions, called the syntax, that makes the language unique. Most have translators called compilers to convert the language commands to machine commands.

Computer Support Group

A dynamic, experienced technical company in Palm Springs, CA, that writes and supports specialized software. They support and repair most hardware created in the last 35 years. They also design, create and build specialized hardware for situations that require something unique. You are viewing this dictionary on the CSGNetwork site. See About Us.


A channel of most online services that features information and discussion on computing and software. These often have links to sites offering support and drivers to keep equipment and software updated.


1. A device that serves as a point of consolidation of network links so that multiple circuits may share common limited network resources. Concentrators are also used in local-area networks (LANs) to combine transmissions from a cluster of nodes. Also called a MAU, multiplexor, hub or amplifier by industry people. 2. A type of multiplexor that combines multiple channels onto a single transmission medium in such a way that all the individual channels can be simultaneously active. For example, ISPs use concentrators to combine their dial-up modem connections onto faster T1 or T3 lines that connect to the Internet.


Conductors are materials that allow electrical charges to flow through them. They are the opposite of insulators. Also see semi-conductor.

conference room

An online large chat room that can hold more than the standard small group of people. (The term small group varies from provider to provider.) These are commonly used in high traffic areas an in online classes found at specific interest Internet sites or areas of an ISP's service.


A state occurring in a part of a network when the message traffic is so heavy that it slows down network response time.


1. When two computers have established a path through which the exchange of information can occur.
2. Often said as connection oriented. A term applied to network architectures and services which require the establishment of an end-to-end, predefined circuit prior to the start of a communications session. Frame relay circuits are examples of connection oriented sessions.
3. A term used to describe how business is conducted in the computer, telephone and electronics industries.


A term applied to network architectures and services which do not involve the establishment of an end-to-end, predefined circuit prior to the start of a communications session. Cells or packets are sent into the connectionless network, and are sent to their destination based on addresses contained within their headers. The Internet and SMDS are two examples of connectionless networks.


1. A point of junction in an electrical circuit. By mechanical or electrical means, they can be switched, on or off, closed or open. Contacts that when "closed" connect a pair of wires together and disconnects the wires when "open". A doorbell button is a simple example of a momentary contact closure.
2. A slang term for a mechanical relay or a smaller version of the same on a chip.
3. The name for a list of people in various name and address programs.
4. The thing that sticks to a programmer's eye when he has worked, staring at a screen for 72 hours straight.


1. Competition for resources, whatever they are. The term is used especially in networks to describe the situation where two or more nodes attempt to transmit a message packet across the same wire at the same time. When it happens, the process is called a collision. Avoidance processes then take place to attempt to get the messages through.
2. A type of network protocol that allows multiple nodes to contend for prioritized network access. That is, two or more nodes may try to send messages across the network simultaneously. The contention protocol defines what happens when this occurs. The most widely used contention protocol is CSMA/CD, used by all of the variations of Ethernet networks.


The integrity of a connection measured as a very low resistance by an ohmmeter.

control character

1. The boss. Also good examples would be the network manager, IT manager, sysop and sysadmin.
2. Microsoft and IBM PC DOS use the IBM PC Extended Character Set, or ECS for short. The lower 128 (7 bit) values are the same as the ASCII character set, but 8 bit values 128-255 map into the European characters differently from other available character sets, including that used within Windows.

One unusual and certainly non-conforming thing about ECS is that codes 0-31 and 128-159, which are historically assigned to non-printing control functions such as Carriage Return and Line Feed, are also assigned special graphics for use in situations where control functions are not needed or wanted. That is how you get happy faces, line-drawing characters, arrows and other special characters in ECS displays, along with sometimes needed European characters. This is a representation of the graphic symbols for character codes decimal 1 to 31 (normally ^A, control A, the SOH character, through ^_, control _, the US character).
3. Also see our ASCII Information and Character Set and our ASCII Information and Extended Character Set. See our list of converters that we have written, available to you at no cost on this site!


A hardware device that is an intelligent master to other subordinate devices. Usually, a controller of drives or similar devices is present in every computer. Other controllers include Video and other forms of I/O, memory and connectivity.


1. A chart or software program that takes a form or value and shows or transforms it into a different scale or value; a translator of languages. See our list of converters that we have written, available to you at no cost on this site!
2. A hardware device that changes gender or connection options of cables.
3. A hardware device that changes the power connection of a laptop computer; a charger.
4. A slang term for modems.


A file on your computer that records information such as where you have been on the World Wide Web. In normal operation, small files that are downloaded to your computer when you browse certain web pages. Cookies hold information that can be retrieved by other web pages on the site. Some cookies are programmed with an expiration date so that they are automatically deleted after a period of time. Modern browsers allow several choices on accepting cookies. It is a current method of artificial intelligence... also something that goes well with milk after school, or can be used to totally destroy a diet. ;) As of July 2000, this technology is fading due to misuse, invasion of privacy and potential danger of virus activity.


The phenomena of computer companies cooperating with their competitors on a project-by-project basis. Also known as sleeping with the enemy.

Coordinated Universal Time

Please see UTC (Coordinated Universal Time).

copy protection

A software lock placed on a computer program by its developer to thwart piracy. This preventative measure was widely used in the mid-1980s but later abandoned by many developers because of numerous customer complaints.


CORBA is an acronym for Common Object Request Broker Architecture, OMG. It is "utopian" (and similar to JAVA) because it is open, vendor-independent architecture and has an infrastructure that computer applications use to work together over networks. Using the standard protocol IIOP, a CORBA-based program from any vendor, on almost any computer, operating system, programming language, and network, can interoperate with a CORBA-based program from the same or another vendor, on almost any other computer, operating system, programming language, and network. CORBA is touted to be useful in many situations. Because of the easy way that CORBA integrates machines from so many vendors, with sizes ranging from mainframes through minis and desktops, to hand-helds and embedded systems, it is the middleware on many large (and even not-so-large) enterprises. One of its most important, as well most frequent, uses is in servers that must handle large number of clients, at high hit rates, with high reliability. CORBA works behind the scenes in the computer rooms of many of the world's largest websites; ones that you probably use every day. Designed for scalability and fault-tolerance support for these systems. But it's not used just for large applications; specialized versions of CORBA run real-time systems, and small embedded systems. For more information, contact the Object Management Group at HTTP://WWW.OMG.ORG.


Unit of electrical quantity. The number of electrons which must pass a point in one second to produce a current of one ampere. The quantity which will deposit .0000116 once of copper from one plate to the other in a copper sulfate solution.


A telephony term that is an abbreviation for Calling Party Control (Disconnect Supervision). A short break in the line current in the called party’s phone line when the calling party hangs up; not the same as FLASH. Not available on PABX’s.


1. Short for Customer Premise Equipment, a telephony term. On digital circuits provided by the telephone company, any terminating hardware owned by the user and not by the Telco (telephone company) is generically referred to as CPE.
2. Any equipment, such as telephones, computers, printers, video equipment or other items, that a user can connect to a network. The key thought is that it is possible for the user to do it himself on his location.


1. Short for Characters Per Inch, a printing term. It is the number of characters that will print within one horizontal inch. Also known as Pitch. 10 pitch = 10 characters per inch. This can only be predictably calculated with non-proportional (fixed spaced) fonts where the horizontal space that each character uses is of equal proportion.


1. Short for Characters Per Line, a printing term. It is the number of characters that will fit on a single horizontal line. See CPI.


An acronym for Complex Programmable Logic Device, or Complex PLD. The other, less powerful form of PLD is a SPLD. CPLDs are similar to SPLDs except that they are significantly higher capacity. A typical CPLD is the equivalent of two to 64 SPLDs. A CPLD typically contains from tens to a few hundred macrocells. A group of eight to 16 macrocells is typically grouped together into a larger function block. The macrocells within a function block are usually fully connected. If a device contains multiple function blocks, then the function blocks are further interconnected. Not all CPLDs are fully connected between function blocks. This is vendor and family specific. Less that 100% connection between function blocks means that there is a chance that the device will not route or may have problems keeping the same pinout between design revisions. The designer must verify the programming logic. In concept, CPLDs consist of multiple PAL-like logic blocks interconnected together via a programmable switch matrix. Typically, each logic block contains 4 to 16 macrocells, depending on the architecture.


1. Short for Characters Per Second, a printing term. It is the rate at which characters will print to media.

CPU (Central Processing Unit)

The Central Processing Unit is the main "brain" of the computer, where the information is processed and calculations are done. CPUs come from many different manufacturers including but not limited to Intel, AMD, Cyrix and Motorola. There are also many proprietary CPUs in special interest equipment. The main silicon chip that runs a computer's operating system and application software. It performs a computer's essential mathematical functions and controls essential operations. Intel CPUs in PCs were numbered by generation: 286, 386, 486. This numbering scheme was abandoned by Intel with the Pentium CPU, which would probably be the 586, the Pentium Pro, Pentium II and the Pentium III, which could be the 686, 786 and 886 respectively. Motorola PowerPC CPUs have maintained a consistent numbering convention: 601, 603, 604.


1. A malicious hacker who breaks (or cracks) the security of computer systems in order to access, steal, or destroy sensitive information. "Hacker" is often incorrectly used instead of cracker, especially by the media. See also hacker.
2. A Southern computer person. See an example here of one's work.
3. A Southern red-neck. Once a cracker, always a cracker! Good thing Polly was a Southern Belle.


Cyclic Redundancy Check, a simple checksum used for detecting errors in data files, programs and data flow.

credit card memory

A type of memory typically used in laptop and notebook computers. Credit card memory features a small form factor and is named for its similarity to the size, shape and general appearance of a credit card.


An acronym for Customer Relationship Management. This is a term that all computer companies approach but none are really good at accomplishing. Since computers are virtually antiquated every 18 months as of 2001, you would think that computer companies would make an effort to turn customers into relationships that would continue to purchase from them. Take the situation of Compaq and the Digital acquisition. Compaq did virtually everything it could to alienate the DEC customers. Why did they buy the company and then run it into the ground? Who knows the answer to that but it has been the history in large acquisitions and mergers. Will HP do the same or will they value the customer base they acquire? Time will tell.


CRON is the name of program that enables UNIX (also Linux, Zenix and similar 'NIX based operating systems) users to execute commands or scripts (groups of commands) automatically at a specified time/date. It has the same function as a batch file except the execution order is based on the system clock. It is normally used for sys admin commands, like makewhatis, which builds a search database for the man -k command, or for running a backup script, but can be used for anything. A common server use is automated response programs, often called time reminders. A common workstation use for it today is connecting to the Internet and downloading E-Mail or user group listings. For more details, see our UNIX command listing for CRON.

cross assembler

1. A computer program that translates machine language code so that it can be read by a different type of CPU.
2. An assembly line worker that is not very happy.


To send an attached file via E-Mail. See also upload and download.


In communications, a conductor which runs through the cable and connects to a different pin number at each end. A serial cable to attach a monitor to a port on most minicomputers connects pin 2 on one end to pin 3 on the other. Transmit talks to receive and receive talks to transmit. However the ground on pin 7 connects to pin 7 at both ends as does the handshake on pin 20.


To post a single message simultaneously to multiple newsgroups or discussion groups. Gratuitous cross-posting is considered poor Netiquette.


Interference on an analog line of an adjacent signal with the intended receive signal. Crosstalk makes it hard to hear just the intended signal, as there are multiple conversations on the line at once. See static or noise.


An acronym for Cathode Ray Tube. CRTs are for all practical purposes, picture tubes. However, the term CRT has become the often used term for a computer station or monitor.


To efficiently process large amounts of information. A number-cruncher, for example, is a routine or device optimized for and dedicated to processing numbers.


The study of codes, cryptography refers to the making and breaking of algorithms to conceal or otherwise encrypt information. One of the most popular Internet encryption schemes is PGP. This technology is used in schemes dedicated to the safe transfer of credit card numbers on E-Commerce sites.

CSG or CSGNetwork

See Computer Support Group in real life and CSGNetwork in the online counterpart. A synonym for really nice people!


An acronym for Carrier Sense Multiple Access / Collision Detection; a set of guidelines and operating rules determining how network devices respond when two devices attempt to use a data channel simultaneously. The generic name for this sort of event is a collision. CSMA/CD is a type of contention protocol that enables collision detection. All variations of Ethernet networks use CSMA/CD. This standard enables network enabled devices to detect a collision. After detecting a collision has occured, a device waits a random delay time and then attempts to transmit the message a second time. If the device detects another collision, it waits twice as long as the previous delay to try to transmit the message another time. This process is known in the industry as exponential back off.


An acronym for Cascading Style Sheets. A new feature being added to HTML and DHTML that gives both Web site developers and users more control over how pages are displayed. With CSS, designers and users can create style sheets that define how different elements, such as headers and links, appear. These style sheets can then be applied to any Web page. The term cascading derives from the fact that multiple style sheets can be applied to the same Web page. CSS was developed by the W3C. The specification is still evolving but is fully (or nearly fully) supported by any current Web browsers including what we support, Microsoft's IE 5.5 version and up, as well as most other current generation browsers. The first proposal was made in mid-1997.


A particular form of video technology that is found in portable, laptop and hand held devices. Short for color super-twist nematic, an LCD technology originally developed by Sharp Electronics Corporation. Unlike TFT, CSTN is based on a passive matrix, which is less expensive to produce. The original CSTN displays developed in the early 90's suffered from slow response times and ghosting. Recent advances in the technology, however, have made CSTN a viable alternative to active-matrix displays. New CSTN displays offer 100ms response times, a 140 degree viewing angle, and high-quality color rivaling TFT displays, all at about half the cost. A newer passive-matrix technology called High-Performance Addressing (HPA) offers even better response times and contrast than CSTN. See DSTN.


1. Channel Service Unit, a hardware device used to interface between a serial port and a digital circuit, generally a device used to connect a digital circuit to a serial interface is a "CSU/DSU". The device is most often used in real time control work.
2. The first device encountered by a T1 line entering a facility. It protects the equipment beyond it from damage due to disturbances on the T1 line and regenerates the T1 signal to meet T1 specifications.


An acronym for Client-To-Client-Protocol, a feature of some IRC clients.


An acronym for Clear To Send, both a command and line in serial communications and interfaces. The serial handshake line at the computer usually connected to the RTS (Ready To Send) input line of a printer's interface.


Pronounced "See you, See me," CU-SeeMe is a publicly available video-conferencing program developed at Cornell University. It allows anyone with audio/video capabilities and an Internet connection to video-conference with anyone else with the same capabilities. It also allows multiple people to tie into the same video-conference. The slang and shorthand term is CU-C-ME.


1. An original NeXT computer. The motherboard and drives for this machine are packed into a 12-inch matte black cube. See anchor!
2. A number to the third power. See our Cube And Cube Root Calculator.


The flow of electricity, measured in amperes. See AMP. Typical current flow direction in a DC circuit is from negative to positive.

cut and paste

A method of copying data from one window to another. Highlight the text you'd like to copy, click on EDIT and then CUT, move the cursor to where you'd like to place the text, and click on EDIT and then PASTE. The text will now be in the new locations. This is similar in operation to copy and paste.

cutoff frequency

1. The frequency either above which or below which the output of a circuit, such as a line, amplifier, or filter, is reduced to a specified level.
2. The frequency below which a radio wave fails to penetrate a layer of the ionosphere at the incidence angle required for transmission between two specified points by reflection from the layer.

cya (see ya)

A form of online shorthand meaning "See you later"; in the business world it has another meaning, especially if you are climbing the corporate ladder. The person you step on while going up, you will no doubt see on your way down!


A volunteer who works in the Internet Connection or similar named area, answering questions primarily to new users about the Internet side of the ISP services. CyberJockeys answer questions about the ISP's interface to the Internet, and about the Internet itself.


1. A subgenre of science fiction inspired by William Gibson's 1982 novel "Neuromancer".
2. A lifestyle characterized by computer games, Internet surfing, and large doses of attitude.
3. A typical teenager.


1. Cyberspace refers to the 'place' you go when you use your computer and modem to communicate with others. When you are online, you are in cyberspace. With many users of the Internet, it refers to the area between the ears.
2. The place where computer networking hardware, network software, and people using them converge. Defined by John Perry Barlow as the place where a telephone call happens.
3. The prefix "cyber" is often combined with other words, as in "cyberpunk".
4. What is between the ears of cyberpunks.


The magnetic formatted concentric circles that contain sectors that contain data, on a disk drive. Cylinders can span platters (the surfaces) and actually contain tracks. On a single platter surface read by a head, such as a diskette, they are the same. The number of tracks is the number of cylinders x the number of heads.


1. A single operation of a program loop that may be planned for many iterations.
2. One complete wave in electricity. It takes place in one 60th of a second. This is also called hertz. 3. A pattern of computer operations. An example would be that in a nightly backup operation, drives F:, G: and H: of the network are backed up. Each drive would be a cycle.
4. A measure of time. To check the atomic time at the U.S. Naval Observatory, click here.


Cyrix, now owned by motherboard and chip technology manufacturer VIA, is a direct competitor in the microprocessor business to Intel. Get more details on VIA and Cyrix at HTTP://WWW.VIA.COM.TW/EN/INDEX.JSP.

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