JVS Computers      01/09/2012


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ATX:  ATX form factor is current standard for home PC's. Cases, motherboards, and power supplies use ATX specifications.

AT: An older form factor.  AT systems can easily be identified by the keyboard port, which is also AT.  It is much larger than a PS/2 keyboard port.  

Baby AT:  An older form factor, similar to AT.

Basic Input Output System.  These are the basic instructions built into the CMOS chip on your motherboard.

Bit:  A bit is a single piece of data (either a 0 or a 1).

Bus:  No!  Not mass transportation!  A bus is a data pathway connecting two or more devices.  Busses are measured by their speed in megahertz, and their bandwidth in bits.

Byte: A byte is a group of eight bits.

Case:  See the Hardware page.

CD-ROM: The CD-ROM disk is a data storage device.  Since it is a ROM storage device, it can only be read, and not written to.  See the Hardware page.

CD-RW: CD Rewritable disks differ from regular CD-ROM's in that they can be written to by a special drive.  Re-Writable disks can be written more than once.

CD-R:  Like CD-RW disks, can be written to, but only once.  CD-RW drives can use either CD-RW or CD-R disks.

Chip:  A chip is very compact set of transistors, that work together to perform complex task.  Also see chip set.

Chip set. A group of chips that work together to provide certain functions, and/or support for advanced functions.

CMOS: Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor.  This is the chip on your motherboard that stores the BIOS.  CMOS is powered by a battery on the motherboard.

CPU: Central Processing Unit.  This is the chip that is designed to perform the most complex of computing task in a PC. Modern CPU's are actually several different components built into one package.  See the Hardware page.

Desktop:  A term used to describe a PC which is built to reside on a desk top, as opposed to a mobile PC or a notebook PC

DDR:  Double Data Rate memory is a type of much faster SDRAM, operating at 266 MHz or 333 MHz.  See "Memory" on the Hardware page.

Driver:  A program that "tells" a PC how to use a device.

Drive:  A data storage area.  A hard disk drive may be partitioned into several different drives, which are labeled using letters of the alphabet.  A floppy disk drive is commonly named "A Drive", and the main partition of a hard drive is most often named "C Drive".

DVD: A CD media type commonly used to store large data files like movies. 

Electro Static Discharge: See the ALERT page!

Floppy Disk Drive:  The 3.5 inch floppy disk drive reads 3.5 inch floppy disks.  These disks must be formatted, but almost always come from the factory formatted.  What does a floppy disk look like?  Check out the images on the upper right side of this page!

Fire Wall: 
Used in LAN's or WAN's to keep people who are unauthorized out!

FireWire: A data exchange standard that allow for faster external devices like external CD-RW and Hard Disk Drives.

GUI:  Graphical User Interface.  This makes using the operating system easier to use by using simpler methods to access and manipulate data, such as menus. 

Hard Disk Drive:
Mass storage device used by PC's.  Also known as a "magnetic" storage device, as opposed to an "optical" storage device, like a CD-ROM.  The hard drive is where data is stored long term, not to be confused with "main memory" which is another word for RAM.

Hertz (Hz):  A measurement of electrical frequency, modern PC processors operate in the gigahertz, while memory and processor busses operate in the megahertz.

Internet:  Also known as the "world wide web".  Data on the internet (in public pages anyway) is available for anyone in the world with a PC to access.  If you are viewing this page, you are on the internet.

LAN: Local Area Network.  A much smaller version of an internet, often used in businesses, schools, and government agencies.

Magnetic Storage Device:  A device using magnetism to change data bits on  the surface of a special disk.  The hard disk drive and floppy disk drive are magnetic storage devices.

Memory:  The hard drive is often misnamed as being memory.  The system memory (also main memory) are the RAM chips that are installed in modules on the motherboard.  For more on memory see the Hardware page.

Motherboard: Also called the systemboard.  See the Hardware page.

Operating System:  A program (or programs) that enable a PC to accept input, process the input, and generate output.  Windows is an operating system.

Optical Storage Device:  A device that uses a laser to change data bits on the surface of a special disk.  CD-ROM's (which can only read the storage media), CD-RW's, and DVD drives are all optical storage devices.

Parallel Port: Often called a "printer port".  As opposed to a serial port through which data flows one bit at a time, in a parallel port data can flow 8 bits at a time.

USB: Universal Serial Bus is a data exchange standard similar to FireWire, which allows for easy connection of external devices.  USB 2.0 is even as fast and faster than FireWire.

Virus: A real virus invades our body, infects, and kills healthy cells.  A computer virus is similar.  Just think of data files as being the cells.  Some viruses are harmless, while others can completely wreck your PC.

Worm: Similar to a virus, worms infect your computer.  Worms often do no more than send copies of them selves out through your e-mail program.

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