Computer Definitions

An explanation of the common terms and acronyms used on the Internet. Web lingo and computer jargon explained in simple terms.


ActiveX - Microsoft's answer to JAVA. ActiveX (TM) is a technology and set of programming tools from Microsoft for building interactivity with users into Web pages and application programs. ActiveX includes what Microsoft used to call Object Linking and Embedding (OLE) and adds more. There are ActiveX controls and ActiveX documents. Controls are objects that can be imbedded into Web pages (for example, small messages that pop up unexpectedly or images that become active when selected with a mouse) or into application programs off the Web. Controls are roughly similar to Java applets. Documents are objects that are viewable and navigable with a viewer.

ADSL - (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) A Broadband DSL line where the upload speed is different from the download speed. Usually the download speed is much greater. The problem with ADSL is you have to be 3.5 km from a telephone exchange, although improved technology has made it possible for you to be 5.5 km away.

Anonymous FTP - A method of logging on to another computer to download files without having an account on the other computer. Typically used for public downloads of software, you would use Anonymous for the login, and your e-mail address for your Password.

Applet - A JAVA applet is a nifty way of producing special effects on a web page. It consists of 2 parts-the instruction code and the program itself. The code is integrated into the HTML source of the web page, while the Applet program is downloaded onto a user's computer. The program is then run using the parameter specified by the code. Applets cannot be used to alter or destroy a user's computer in any way.

ASCII - American Standard Code for Information Interchange. This is the most common code for text on computers. It is a sequential formula for representing English characters (all the upper and lower-case Latin letters, numbers, punctuation, etc.) with each character assigned a number from 0 to 127. For example A is ASCII code 65 while a is 97. A common usage is in plain text files .txt


Bandwidth - The transmission capacity of the lines that carry the Internet's electronic traffic. The more bandwidth a line has, the faster the download and the more people can be connected at any given moment. Technologies such as DSL, Broadband/Cable and ISDN allow for much cleaner and faster transfer of information. Below are some of the common Internet connection speeds in Domestic and business use.

Common Domestic Internet Connections
Carrier Technology Speed kbps Speed Mbps
Dial-up 28.8 kbps 0.03 Mbps
Dial-up 56 kbps 0.05 Mbps
ISDN 64 kbps 0.06 Mbps
Cable (mid band)
128 kbps 0.13 Mbps
Cable / ADSL / Satellite 512 kbps 0.5 Mbps
Cable / ADSL 1024 kbps 1 Mbps
Cable / ADSL 2048 kbps 2 Mbps
Common Business Internet Connections
Carrier Technology Speed kbps Speed Mbps
ISDN 128 kbps 0.13 Mbps
T1 1,581 kbps 1.54 Mbps
ADSL up to 8,650 kbps up to 8 Mbps
Cable up to 1024 kbps up to 10 Mbps
T3 45,809 kbps 44.74 Mbps
OC-1 53,084 kbps 51.84 Mbps
OC-3 637,009 kbps 622.08 Mbps


Bit - Binary digIT. A single digit number in base-2 (binary), in other words, either a one or a zero. The smallest unit of computerized data. Bandwidth is usually measured in bits-per-second. See also byte.

bps - Bits Per Second. A measurement used to describe how fast data is transmitted. See Kbps and Bandwidth.

Bookmark - A saved link to a web page kept with a list of other saved links. Also called Favorites in Internet Explorer as they're usually your favourite web pages.

Broadband - The ability to send multiple streams (signals) be it voice, video or data down the same line. Often used to describe the speed of an Internet connection and commonly refers to high speed Internet access. See also Bandwidth, Cable, DSL and ADSL.

Browser - A program that allows you to see, read, and hear information on the World Wide Web. The two most popular browsers are Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator.

Byte - In most computer systems a byte = 8 bits. Bytes (B) are measured in base 2 (binary) and usually denote storage or data capacity. Bits (b) usually represent data speed (see bps) measured in base 10 (decimal). So 1 MB (one megabyte) = 1,024 KB or 1,048,576 B where as 1 Mb (one megabit) = 1,000 Kb or 1,000,000 b.

To confuse matters some hard disk manufacturers measure their storage using base 10. So 100 GB would be 109 x 100 = 100,000,000,000 bytes rather than 230 x 100 = 107,374,182,400 bytes - which is almost 7 gigabytes short of what you would normally expect! So when you can't store as much as you thought on your new Hard Disk now you know why.

Prefix multipliers for base 2 and base 10
Prefix Symbol

Power of 2
(bytes B)

Power of 10
(bits b)
(none) -- 20 100
kilo- K 210 103
mega- M 220 106
giga- G 230 109
tera- T 240 1012
peta- P 250 1015
exa- E 260 1018
zetta- Z 270 1021
yotta- Y 280 1024



Cable - In reference to Telecommunication (Cable) Companies such as Telewest and NTL; A broadband infrastructure whereby voice, video and high speed data services can be supplied through underground cabling. Commonly refers to fast Internet access. See also Bandwidth.

Cache - A section of your computers memory used to store information downloaded from the Web, thus requests for the same information can be retrieved from the Cache and don't need to be downloaded each time. For example background graphics and company logo's that appear on each web page are downloaded once to the cache then retrieved each time from there. This helps speed up the surfing experience.

There are software utilities that enable web pages to be pre-fetched and cached; the software looks at the links on a web page and guesses which you are likely to click. It starts retrieving this information whilst you read the page you are currently on. When you come to click on this link the page has already been stored in the cache saving you waiting for the information to download.

Chat - A method of communication over the Internet in which information is being relayed in real time like a conversation, only words are being typed, not spoken. See IRC and Instant Messaging.

Client - A computer that uses the services of another computer, or server. If you dial into another system, your computer becomes a client of the system you dial into.

Cookie - As well as a tasty biscuit this term refers to a piece of information the web site you are browsing stores on your computer. Common uses are to remember preferences, online shopping cart contents, log-in information. They are also used to track repeat visits to a web site or viewing of some web page advertisements.

CSS - Cascading Style Sheet. A set of instructions that when attached to a web page defines the appearance (style and layout) of text and other elements. The term cascading derives from the fact that multiple style sheets can be applied to the same Web page(s). CSS was developed by the W3C.

Cyber - A prefix added to an increasing number of words which usually relate to computers.

Cyberspace - Used to describe the non-physical terrain created by computer systems and was coined by author William Gibson in his novel Neuromancer.

Cyberphobia - The irrational fear of computers.

Cybermen - Ruthless and emotionless race dedicated to the conquest of the galaxy and revenge for the destruction of their home planet of Mondras. One of Dr. Who's most popular enemy's from the BBC sci-fi show and responsible for many school kids nightmares.


Dial-Up Connection - This is a standard way of connecting to the Internet temporarily. Using a modem and a phone line your computer establishes a connection with your ISP's remote server which itself is permanently connected to the Net. See also Bandwidth.

Domain Name - This is a unique name that is assigned to a specific machine or IP address. The domain points to the IP address of a computer on the Internet (see DNS below). No two domains can be the same. A Domain name usually consists of three levels:

Domain Name Tier System examples
Third Level Second Level Top Level
www. gl-tech
ftp. amazon .com
mail. bbc .net

The third level usually defines the type of Internet traffic such as World Wide Web pages (www.) or emails (mail.). The second level is the company/organisation/person's name and the top level defines the type of organisation and/or geographical location. See also Top Level Domains.

You can check to see if a Domain Name you want is available using this Domain Name Availability Checker

DNS Domain Name Server - A computer that translates between IP addresses that people have difficulty remembering and domain names which are much easier to recall.  For example, a DNS translates to

Download - The process of copying files from a remote computer (server) down to your own system.

DSL - Digital Subscriber Line. A technology that configures an existing phone line for high speed data communication. Even though it uses the existing phone line it is much faster than a standard dial up modem as the line is specially configured with a DSL circuit by the phone company. Special adapters need to be fitted to all phone sockets where a phone is connected to filter out the Data signal from the standard voice signal. This also means the line can be used simultaneously for voice calls and Internet use. See also Bandwidth, ADSL.


E-Mail - Electronic Mail. While most people tend to think of the Web when they hear about the Internet, electronic mail is easily the most used component of the Internet. The first email program was created back in 1972 and the Web as we know it didn't come into being till 1992. E-Mail allows the rapid sending and delivery of messages to computers around the world. In addition to messages, files and pictures can be attached and sent along with it. See also MIME, POP3, SMTP.

Encryption - Procedure that scrambles the contents of a file before sending it over the Internet. The recipient must have software to "decrypt" this file. If you want to transmit sensitive information like credit card details or a password, you have to use some form of encryption. PGP is a commonly-used encryption program.

Ethernet - Networking Standard, a method of connecting computers together in a network. Ethernet can handle about 10,000,000 bits-per-second and can be used with almost any computer.


FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions. Just as it says, a page that has answers to the most common questions on a certain topic. These can be found just about everywhere on the Web.

favicon - A small image or icon used by most recent web browsers (Internet Explorer 5 and above). It can be displayed in a number of different places depending on which browser you're using. Common places are the title bar, alongside the URL and the primary place in the bookmark list or favorites - hence favicon (favorites icon).

A customised image will appear if the web site in question has a favicon.ico file available. This helps emphasis company branding and makes the favorite/bookmark link stand out.

Favorites - Another term for bookmarks used by the Internet Explorer web browser. A saved link to a favourite web page.

Firewall - Security for a computer, local network or Intranet. A combination of hardware and software designed to protect unauthorised access to your computer and files and/or to prevent you accessing certain things over the Internet. Used heavily on corporate intranet's to restrict Internet access and block certain sites that the administrator deems unsuitable for work use.

Flame - The term used to describe the posting of angry and insulting messages by e-mail or to a Newsgroup. Quite often the messages are harsh and personal.

Frames - a way of splitting a web page up into 2 or more independent sections. Usually to have common navigation and title in a separate static section at the top or left of the page. Frames were developed by Netscape in their version 4 web browser and became part of the HTML 4.0 specification. Many sites started incorporating frames in the late 90's. Nowadays frames are generally frowned on as their immediate functionality is let down by some big flaws:

  • Frames prevent correct bookmarking and deep-linking
  • most search engines can't see the content of framed pages properly so those pages are usually ignored
  • users can get "trapped" in another web sites frames when trying to move onto a different site
  • old web browsers can't view web sites that use frames
  • some browsers don't print framed pages correctly

Freeware - Just like it says, freeware is software that can be downloaded and used without charge. Most freeware is for home use only and redistribution isn't allowed without prior approval or a license from the author.

FTP - File Transfer Protocol. This is a method by which files are moved/exchanged from one computer to another over a network. FTP was in use long before the Web.


Gateway - A set-up that translates one network with a different network or network protocol. For example your ISP acts as a gateway for you to access the Internet. Another example is AOL who have a gateway to translate between its proprietary e-mail format and standard Internet e-mail.

GIF - Graphic Interchange Format. A type of graphics file defined by CompuServe. This is one of the main graphics formats used on the World Wide Web. It is limited to a maximum of 256 colours and better for illustrations or graphical titles. For photo's JPEG is usually better.


Host - The term has several meanings. In Internet protocol specifications, the term "host" means any computer that has full two-way access to other computers on the Internet. In web site terms "host" or "hosting" usually refers to the company whose web server the site is stored on - or hosted by. The term "host" can also refer to a mainframe computer which acts as a large server to several workstations.

HTML - Hyper Text Markup Language. The programming language that defines how web pages are formatted and displayed (see also CSS). The language uses a system of codes or tags that identifies and defines the logical parts of a web page/document. Your web browser interprets these codes and displays the document accordingly.

HTTP - Hyper Text Transfer Protocol. The networking standard computers use to transfer information containing hyper Text, mainly web pages. The http:// in a URL tells your web browser to fetch and transmit the relevant Hyper Text document.


Instant Messaging - A way of chatting in real time one-to-one by typing short messages. Popular Instant Messaging programs are ICQ, AIM, MSN Messenger and Yahoo! Messenger. Programs have developed over the years and now allow voice communication and file exchange.

Internet - (upper-case I) The global network that connects millions of computers in over 100 countries together. Various computer networks communicate with each other all over the globe in a matter of seconds using TCP/IP. The Internet can be used to access a variety of different services such as World Wide Web, E-Mail, FTP, Newsgroups, & IRC and doesn't just refer to the Web.

Intranet - A private network that uses the same tools and software as the public Internet, but on a much smaller scale. This structure is typically used by corporations to relay and present information to its employees in an efficient and timely manner.

IP Address - This is a unique number which identifies a computer on the Internet. Every computer that is connected to the Internet, permanently or temporarily, is assigned an IP or Internet address. IP addresses are usually four sets of numbers separated by 3 dots e.g. These addresses usually have a domain name alias so they are easier to remember. Each set of numbers can be in the range 0 to 255 which allows over 4.2 billion addresses. With the growth in the number of computers connecting to the Internet this finite number is going to run out soon. That's where IPv6 comes in - the next generation Internet! For further reading try

IRC - Internet Relay Chat - a chat room protocol of sorts. A method by which numerous people can engage in discussions through the Internet at the same time. Information is passed along in real time and what one person types, everyone who has access to that channel, can see it and respond. Similar to Instant Messaging yet one-to-many rather than one-to-one.

ISDN - Integrated Service Digital Network. A communications standard for sending voice, video and data over digital or normal telephone lines. Digital connections are capable of speeds 4 to 9 times faster than a typical dial-up connection. ISDN access requires an ISDN line from the phone company and an ISDN terminal adapter or modem. See also Bandwidth.

ISP - Internet Service Provider. The company who provide your basic access to the Internet. They typically provide other services such as web page hosting, ISDN access, HTML programming, and networking. Compuserve and Demon were amongst the first ISP's but now lots of companies are vying for your business from household names such as AOL, BT Openworld and Wannado, to even supermarkets and chain stores.


JAVA - Java is a programming language designed to be able to run on different operating systems requiring only a Java interpreter.  Your web browser for example is able to run Java programs regardless of whether your are using Windows, Mac OSX or Linux.   With Java, you can create web sites with better graphic effects as well as provide a much higher level of interactivity then you can with plain HTML.

JavaScript - Java's little brother.  Unlike Java programs (called Applets), JavaScript is not compiled, meaning to use this you simply need to add the script to existing HTML for the web browser to interpret.  There's no applet to download.  Although not as powerful as a Java program, JavaScript tends to be more compact, quicker to run, and easier to use.  

JPEG - pronounced jay-peg - Joint Photographic Experts Group. The name of the committee that designed the photographic image-compression standard. One of the main image formats used on the Web, this is a compressed format which is optimal for full colour photographs or digital images. Compression is balanced against loss of detail, the greater the compression the more detail is lost but the smaller the file size (this is known as lossy compression).


kbps - Kilobits per second. A speed rating for computer modems that measures (in units of 1,024 bits) the maximum number of bits the device can transfer in one second under ideal conditions. See also Bandwidth.


LAN - Local Area Network, Computer network limited to one single location, usually an office.

Linux - Is a computer operating system based on Unix. It has a reputation as a very efficient and fast-performing system and is used on many web servers around the world. Linux's kernel (the central part of the operating system) was initially created as a hobby by Linus Torvalds at the University of Helsinki in Finland. The Operating system is unique in that it is free. It is developed under the GNU General Public License where by anyone can download the source code. There are various distribution packages available and not all are free although it is still a lot cheaper than Windows.


MIME - Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions. A set of Internet functions that extends normal e-mail capabilities and enables computer files to be attached to e-mail. Files sent by MIME arrive at their destination as exact copies of the original so that you can send fully-formatted word processing files, spreadsheets, graphics images and software applications to other users via simple e-mail. Computer viruses are often transmitted via email attachments so if you receive an email with an attachment make sure you trust the source. Also make sure you have adequate Virus protection software and that the virus definitions are up to date.

Modem - Short for Modulator/Demodulator, it's the little piece of hardware that allows your computer to communicate over existing phone lines.


Netscape - Or Netscape Communications Corporation to give the company its full title. Started in 1994 as Mosaic Communications they created the Netscape Navigator web browsing software. Mainly due to its many software releases to stay up-to-date with emerging HTML standards it became the market leader. In 1995 they had around 80% market share. At this point Microsoft's Windows 95 was released with the bundled Internet Explorer and the Browser wars with Microsoft began.

Internet Explorer started to gain more and more market share. To fight back Netscape Navigator was made available for "free" in January 1998. The source code was also freely available which lead to the Open Source project Mozilla. In November 1998 Netscape was acquired by AOL who ironically were using Internet Explorer technology in their browser. This was part of a deal they had with Microsoft to promote them as preferred ISP in their Windows software. The deal fell apart with the launch of Windows XP and AOL changed to using the Netscape Navigator technology.

AOL made a deal with Microsoft in Summer 2003 to go back to using Internet Explorer technology in its AOL browser for the next seven years. However AOL have said they will continue to support Netscape, both the web browser and portal.

Network - Computers that are connected to each other. Computers connected close to each other are known as a LAN, or Local Area Network. Those that are far from each other are known as WAN's or Wide Area Network. All these networks connected to each other make up the Internet.

Newsgroup - A newsgroup is a forum in which users discuss a particular topic and post articles and questions relating to this subject. Readers can reply to these queries either in the newsgroup or directly by e-mail. Some groups are moderated and only articles relating to the subject are allowed and spamming is discouraged. A great place to find and trade information. See also USENET


Optical Carrier levels (OCx) - A way of transmitting data over optical cable at very high speeds. OC-1 is 51.84 Mbps nearly 950 times faster than a typical dial-up modem. Speeds go up by this multiplier, at present up to OC-768 which is 39,813.12 Mbps or around 40 Gigabits-per-second! See also Bandwidth.


PGP - Pretty Good Privacy, Program developed by Phil Zimmerman that protects files from being read by others. You can also use PGP to attach a digital signature to a file to prove that you are the sender.

Ping - A method of testing whether or not you can communicate with another computer and measuring the connection speed. It's similar to Sonar, when you ping another computer, a short message is sent. If the computer replies (a Pong - no really), then you can "talk" to it. If not, either you can't talk to it, or the connection between the two computers is poor.

POP3 - Post Office Protocol, version 3. The system that lets you retrieve and download your e-mails from a mail server over an Internet connection. The mail server will store any emails sent to you till you "log-on" and collect them.

Popularity Ranking - A Search Engine results ranking system chiefly used by Google. Google incorporates a popularity ranking or PageRank in with its results ranking. At a basic level this is how many other web pages link to a certain page. So page A linking to page B is a vote for page B. If page A is also ranked highly (more popular) then the vote has more weight. The actual algorithm is complex and its full nature a guarded secret to avoid unscrupulous webmasters cheating the system. To see what a pages PageRank is you can download the Google Toolbar.

PPP - Point to Point Protocol. A way of connecting your computer to the Internet over existing phone lines. It is sometimes considered a member of the TCP/IP suite of protocols


Quicktime - a multimedia development, storage, and playback technology from Apple. Quicktime files combine sound, text, animation, and video in a single file. Using a Quicktime player that either comes with a Web browser or can be downloaded from Apple or the browser company, you can view and control brief multimedia sequences and streaming video.


Redirection - A way for a web site to automatically redirect you to a different URL or web page. For example if a web page was renamed or moved you would normally get a 404 Page Not Found error. Instead of this a small piece of code can be used to redirect the user to the pages new location or different page completely.

Results Ranking - The order in which search engine results appear. When you search on a term (keyword) the search engine tries to decide which results are more relevant and display them in an appropriate order. Each search engine uses its own unique algorithm to determine this order. Most are based on the location and frequency of the keywords on a web page with more prominence or weight given to certain areas such as the page title. Whilst others, like Google, combine this with a popularity ranking system.

Rich Media - An Internet advertising term for an advert on a web page that uses advanced technology such as streaming video, java applets or interactive animation.


Search Engine - A program which indexes and retrieves web sites based on keywords input by a user. Using Search Engines is a convenient way to look for web sites relating to a topic of interest. Some use an index built up by its spiders while others use a directory of sites that have been categorised, sorted and added by a human operator. See also Ranking

Server - A host computer used to transfer (serve) files to you via a network or Internet connection.

Shareware - Computer programs that are easily available to download and try out. Generally, you can try it out for a specific period of time, after which you must send in a payment to register the software. This is strictly based on the Honour system and it is only by voluntary compliance that this system is viable.

Signature file - An ASCII text file, maintained within e-mail programs, that contains a few lines of text for your signature. The programs automatically attach the file to your messages so you don't have to repeatedly type a closing. You can also add a hyperlink to your signature so that people can visit your own personal or business web site.

SMTP - Simple Mail Transfer Protocol. A server-to-server protocol used to send e-mail from one computer to another. As opposed to POP3 which is a client-to-server protocol.

Spam - This is the act of posting inappropriate messages to various newsgroups or the sending of unsolicited email, usually in large quantities to others on the Internet. Most people with an email address will be familiar with spam or junk email - unfortunately. A great email spam blocker can be found at - and its free!

Spider - A program that visits web sites and reads its pages and other information. Also called "bots", "robots" or "crawlers" and primarily used by search engines. The spider visits a web page and follows each link until all pages have been read. It then knows what information that site has, so when someone searches on a keyword if it is mentioned on the site then the relevant page will appear in the search listings.

SSL - Secure Sockets Layer - a protocol developed by Netscape for transmitting sensitive information and documents via the Internet. It has recently evolved into TLS (Transport Layer Security). Data is encrypted before transmission and can only be decrypted by the specific computer connected via SSL. This is most commonly used with e-commerce to safely transmit credit card details. A Secure web page using SSL will have the prefix HTTPS:

Streaming Video/Media - A sequence of moving images that are compressed and sent to the users streaming media player software - usually integrated into a web page. Streaming Media usually denotes video and sound. The difference from downloading a normal video file to streaming video is the media is sent in a continuous stream and is played as it arrives rather than when the whole file has downloaded.


T1 - An Internet backbone line that carries up to 1.5 Megabits per second (1.536Mbps). Capable of supporting 24 simultaneous 28.8K connections. An expensive connection usually used by large businesses.

T3 - A fibre optic Internet network line that carries up to 45 million bits per second (45Mbps), the equivalent of almost 30 T1's. Primarily used by ISP's. See also Bandwidth.

TCP/IP - Transfer Control Protocol / Internet Protocol. This is the protocol used by networks to communicate with each other over the Internet. It is the basic language of the Internet. Basically it consists of a two-layer program. One to split data into smaller more manageable chunks or packets, and the second to address each packet so they all go to the right destination.

Telnet - An Internet protocol that lets you connect your PC to another computer through the Internet. Telnet connects you directly to the other computer (host) as if you were logged on locally. You then have the ability to access all the files and use all of the software and capability of the host computer depending on what privileges your account has been granted.

TLD - Top Level Domain. This refers to the last part of a domain name. This usually denotes the nature of the organisation and/or geographical location. TLD's are split into two categories General and Country Code.

There are over 240 ccTLD's i.e. .uk (United Kingdom) or .it (Italy). A list of all these can be found at the web site. The original seven General Top Level Domains are:

.com .net .org
.edu .gov .int .mil

In November 2000 seven more gTLD's were agreed:

.biz .info .name .pro
.aero .coop .museum

Of these the last three are "sponsored" meaning there is a governing body with a set charter as to which companies and organisations can use the TLD. have set up 28 unofficial TLD's including .shop .travel .law .golf to name a few. These work differently to regular TLD's and web sites with these names cannot be accessed if the browser plug-in isn't installed.


Upload - The opposite of a download, this is sending information from a local system to a remote system usually via FTP.

URL - Uniform Resource Locator pronounced YU-AHR-EHL. An address for a file (or resource) on the Internet. The URL is broken down into three main parts. The first tells you what Internet Application Protocol is being used, i.e. http:// for web pages (hyper-text files) or ftp:// for standard files. The second part is the address of the computer or the domain name. And finally the pathname of where the file is stored on the host computer (server). So for example the page you are viewing has the URL:

Usenet - A system of thousands of Newsgroups which are accessible to anyone with a newsreader (and an ISP who provides an Internet news service - most do). Nowadays the Network News Transfer Protocol is used NNTP. On the Web, Google and other sites provide a subject-oriented directory to allow you to post and read messages. You can also do a search on the hundreds of thousands of archived messages. Visit for more info.


W3C- World Wide Web Consortium, an international consortium of companies involved with the Internet and the Web. The W3C was founded in 1994 by Tim Berners-Lee, the original architect of the World Wide Web. The organization's purpose is to develop open standards so that the Web evolves in a single direction rather than being splintered among competing factions.

Web Site - A collection of web pages or WWW files starting with an index page or home page. The larger web site are often hosted on multiple servers in various geographic locations.

Windows - The most popular computer operating system/environment in use today for IBM compatible PC's. It provides a GUI (graphical user interface) to allow the user to easily operate the computer, see WIMP below. Windows was developed by Bill Gates company Microsoft and the first version of Windows was released in 1985 retailing for $100. It has enjoyed various versions through the years the more significant versions being Windows 3.1, Windows NT, Windows 95 and Windows XP.

WIMP - Windows, Icon, Menu, Pointing Device, the term WIMP was used as a derogatory term to describe a graphical user interface such as Microsoft Windows or the Apple Macintosh operating system mainly by those using text based operating systems like DOS and UNIX.

WWW - The World Wide Web. The collection of web sites, pages, resources and users on the Internet that use HTTP. A broader definition comes from The WC3:

"The World Wide Web is the universe of network-accessible information, an embodiment of human knowledge."

The WorldWide Web was invented in 1989 by Tim Berners-Lee. It was originally the name coined for the first hyper-text browser/editor software program he wrote. This was created in 1990 for CERN the European Particle Physics Laboratory in Switzerland. The browser was later renamed Nexus to avoid confusion with the "abstract information space". The first web page was on the Swiss CERN server (no longer available) and is believed to have been created on 13th November 1990.

The first CERN WWW seminar was held in 1991, by the start of 1992 the first web server outside Europe was running and version 1.1 of the Line Mode Browser was released. By January 1993 there are 1 million Internet hosts and 50 HTTP (web) servers increasing to 500 by October.

The Web has grown tremendously since. With current web browsers, sound, video, 3D, and other forms of multimedia are becoming commonplace and businesses and organizations can share and present information in ways not thought possible.

This page has a timeline to the history of the Web and the Internet for those who are interested.



XML - eXtensible Markup Language. Basically it's a flexible way of describing common data/information. Widely used on the world wide web along with or instead of HTML, XML can be used by any individual(s) or companies that want to share information in a consistent way. The difference between XML and HTML is that the tags used in XML also tell you what sort of information the data is, a phone number, product code, price, etc.

A good example of XML use would be a price comparison site. Its spiders can look through various sites using common XML tags and extract the relevant product details to make a valid comparison. It would be programmed to know that <prodcode> would be the product code and <price> is its price.


Zipping - A process of compressing a file or number of files into one compact archive. A ZIP file will take up less storage making it ideal for archiving and backup as well as more efficient and quicker for a user to download. There are several popular tools for compressing and uncompressing files in this manner. Also there are several methods (algorithms) to compress/archive files including RAR, TAR, ACE, CAB, ZOO, LHA and ARC.



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