As A Matter Of Fact.
Software that has almost been forgotten. Abandonware has one or more of the following characteristics:
  • No longer published.
  • No longer has any technical support from its publisher.
  • Does not run on any current hardware or operating system.
  • Is written in an unsupported computer language.
It is still technically illegal for anyone but the owner of the intellectual property to resurrect abandonware. [In my opinion, if some party A resurrects abandonware, and then the publisher suddenly decides to do it themselves, the publisher should credit party A in some fashion instead of prosecuting party A.]
Atanasoff-Berry Computer. The first machine to demonstrate many of the concepts of modern computing. It was designed and built 1939-42 at Iowa State University by John V. Atanasoff, a physics and mathematics professor, and Clifford Berry, his graduate student. The desk-sized ABC employed a binary system, separate memory and computing functions, had regenerative memory, used electronic amplifiers as on/off switches, performed parallel processing, employed circuits for logical addition and subtraction, clocked control of electronic operations, and employed modular design construction. See also ENIAC.
above the fold
Indicates that an item on a page is located such that it is visible without scrolling down.
Abstract Windows Toolkit
See AWT.
Accelerated Graphics Port
See AGP.
access density
The ratio of I/O per second and GB capacity. A disk might have a high areal density (Gb/in^2) but that doesn't matter if it can't be accessed quickly.
access key
A combination of keys that the user presses to access commands by opening pull down menus. EG: In Windows,  pressing alt-F will usually open the File pull down menu, and if S is pressed next, that will usually execute the Save command. The Macintosh OS does not usually use access keys. Both OSs however use shortcut keys such as ctrl-S or command-S, which do not open the pull down menus.
Information about users are contained in an account. An account includes the user's name, password, and access permissions to network resources.
Atomicity, Consistency, Isolation, and Durability. Transactions in databases should pass the ACID test:
  • Atomic It must be a complete entity, all-or-nothing, leaving no partial results.
  • Consistent It leaves the DB in a consistent state, i.e. no business rules are forgotten.
  • Isolated It must run regardless of what else is running. Often this means locking certain resources so there is no outside interference. The transaction never works on data that is in the middle of another transaction.
  • Durable Once complete, its affect remains in storage memory so it would endure even if something like a system crash occurs.

See also transaction.

Active Server Pages
See .asp.
.ocx. A set of Microsoft technologies built upon COM (Component Object Model). ActiveX commonly refers to controls (or component software) that can be used by COM compliant programs. In one sense ActiveX is a more oriented towards distributed objects, whereas COM/OLE are more oriented towards distributed component software. ActiveX can do things like put in a little calendar from which the user can visually select a date.

Microsoft Visual Basic has standard tools as part of the API. ActiveX can be viewed as additional tools. ActiveX components need to be installed and registered to function. ActiveX components are often found in the WINDOWS or SYSTEM directories.

ActiveX is the component software technology behind the OLE compound documenting by Microsoft, just as OpenDoc is to Publish and Subscribe by Apple. ActiveX is easier and more compact than Mac's OpenDoc but not as flexible since ActiveX does not yet support inheritance. See also JavaBean.
ActiveX Data Objects
See ADO.
ActiveX Data Objects MultiDimensional
A programming language developed in the 1970s by the U.S. Dept. of Defense. This was an effort to counter the proliferation of different language systems. All military applications are written in Ada.
Ada is named after Lady Augusta Ada Byron, Countess of Lovelace (1815-1852). She was the daughter of the English poet Lord Byron, but more importantly she was the first female computer scientist and the first computer programmer.
Apple Desktop Bus. Aka RS-422. A serial port used on Macs for up to 16 peripherals. Usually at least the keyboard and the mouse are daisy-chained to the ADB.
Advanced Data Connector. See RDS.
(1) In a computers, all data is stored in memory, whether temporarily (as in RAM chip) or less temporary (as in a disk or hard drive). The data is stored in arrays of bytes. Each byte has an address or unique number assigned to it.

(2) In a network of computers, each network component has an address, name, or token. In a LAN, each node (esp. computers) has a unique address, eg an IP address like

(3) On the Internet, every accessible file has a unique URL address, eg http://www.GeorgeHernandez.com/h/About/AboutMe.asp

(4) For e-mail, entities have their own e-mail address, eg GH@GeorgeHernandez.com.
address space
The set of memory addresses available to a program.
ActiveX Data Objects. Microsoft's API that serves as a bridge between a data consuming application and an OLE compliant database. It provides a consistent sequence of activities necessary to access and update a large variety of data sources and data types. ADO is the evolution of the DAO & RDO data access interfaces. DAO & RDO were limited to ODBC and Jet compliant data sources.

ADO also features RDS (Remote Data Service) which allows you to move data from the server to a client application or Web page, let the manipulate the data, and return the updates to the server, all in a single round trip. RDS was previously released as Advanced Data Connector.

When you work with ADO programmatically, you typically use the following three ADO objects:
  • Connection An ADO Connection object is used to create a connection to a data source.
  • Command An ADO Command object is used to return data from a connection. Command objects can also manipulate data in a data source or call a SQL Server stored procedure.
  • Recordset An ADO Recordset object is used to store the result set of a query on the data source.
ActiveX Data Objects MultiDimensional. A version of ADO for analyzing data warehouses, data marts, and multidimensional structures.
Assymetric Digital Subsriber Line. See DSL.
Advanced Data Connector
Advanced Micro Devices
See AMD.
Advanced Program to Program Communication
Advanced Research Projects Agency
As Far As I Know.
Application Foundation Classes. A set of Java classes developed by Microsoft that enables developers to add GUI elements like windows, menus, and buttons. The AFC sits on top of the JDK (Java Development Kit) and extends Suns AWT (Abstract Window Toolkit).

The AFC is in competition with Netscape's IFC. Supposedly Sun and Netscape have said that the next JDK will combine the AWT with the IFC to form the JFC (Java Foundation Classes).
Away From Keyboard.
Apple File Protocol. See also network communications software.
Accelerated Graphics Port. An Intel interface spec designed to facilitate 3D or 2D faster than PCI cards. It consists of a high speed connection between system memory, motherboard, and the video card. AGP allows the usage of main memory for textures instead of video memory. AGP enables pipelining (parallel processing, i.e. multiple instructions at the same time). AGP Throughput at 1X is 266 Mb/s, 2X is 533 Mb/s, and 4X is 1.07Gb/s. AGP circumvents the PCI bus, thus giving PCI devices more room.
.aiff or .aif. A sound file format for Macs. .wav is sound file format common for PCs.
AOL Instant Messaging. See IM.
Advanced Interactive eXecutive. A flavor of the UNIX OS developed by IBM.
Asynchronous JavaScript and XML. 'In essence, AJAX is an efficient way for a web application to handle user interactions with a web page -- a way that reduces the need to do a page refresh or full page reload for every user interaction. This enables rich behavior (similar to that of a desktop application or plugin-based web application) using a browser. AJAX interactions are handled asynchronously in the background. As this happens, a user can continue working with the page. AJAX Interactions are initiated by the JavaScript in the web page. When the AJAX interaction is complete, JavaScript updates the HTML source of the page. The changes are made immediately without requiring a page refresh. AJAX interactions can be used to do things such as validate form entries (while the user is entering them) using server-side logic, retrieve detailed data from the server, dynamically update data on a page, and submit partial forms from the page.'
ALGOrithmic Language. A high-level compiled language for scientific computations. Two major versions were developed were ALGOL 60 of 1960 and ALGOL 68 of 1968. ALGOL was the inspiration for Pascal.
A step by step procedure for solving a problem. The word itself is derived from Muhammad ibn Musa Al-Khawarizmi (ca.780 - ca.850), the Persian mathematician who introduced Arabic numerals and decimals to the West.
Alice and Bob
Commonly used placeholders for archetypical characters used when explaining concepts in cryptography and physics. Instead "A sent a message to B", it is less abstract to say "Alice sent a message to Bob". Carol, Dave, and Eve usually come next if needed. Ref: Alice and Bob [W] and Metasyntactic variable [W]
Norm Abramson developed the ALOHAnet, the first network that transmitted data into a computer by means of radio waves rather than conventional wires or telephone lines. Aloha is a protocol for satellite and terrestrial radio transmissions. In pure Aloha, a user can transmit at any time but risks collisions with other users' messages. "Slotted Aloha" reduces the chance of collisions by dividing the channel into time slots and requiring that the user send only at the beginning of a time slot. Aloha was the basis for Ethernet, a local area network protocol. Norm Abramson went on to found AlohaNet.com, a satellite ISP.
A.k.a. dogfood. A version that is mostly working but is still undergoing development. Alpha versions under go in-house testing while beta versions undergo testing by selected customers.
alpha bravo charlie
See phonetic alphabet.
alpha channel
A channel for a layer of an image (or for the entire image) that usually pertains to the transparency, where each pixel 0 is transparent (none of the image/layer is shown) and 255 is opaque (the full image/layer is shown). See also channel.
Alpha processor
A RISC processor by Digital Equipment Corporation that is usually used in higher end workstations, servers, and minicomputers. It can run the VMS, UNIX and Windows NT operating systems.
ALTernate. The key on the keyboard marked as such. The ALT key is usually combined with another key to perform something. These are common shortcuts: ALT-TAB (switches to the previous item), ALT-F4 (quits), ALT-PRINT SCREEN (copies an image of the currently active window). In a Unix context the ALT key is aka the Meta key and thus is abbreviated as "M". EG: M-g is the same at ALT-g. See also ALTGR.
ALTernate. The category in Usenet newsgroups for nearly any subcategory.
Altair 8800
The world's first personal computer. It was created in 1975 by Ed Robert at Micro Instrumentation Telemetry Systems. The Altair 8800 was built around the Intel 8080 chip, with 256 B RAM and a panel of switches.
Aka AltGr. ALTernate GRaphics. The key on the keyboard that is to the right of the space bar, i.e. the right hand side ALT key. Originally the AltGr key was used to simulate the simultaneous pressing of the ALT and CTRL keys and allowed the user to obtain graphical characters such as the edges of tables. These days the AltGr provides additional Shift States for keyboard shortcuts. See also Character Set Shortcuts.
Arithmetic Logic Unit. A core computer component that does all the arithmetic and logic operations.
A web editor developed in open source c by the W3C. Amaya also functions as a web browser.
American National Standards Institute
An early line of personal computers made by Commodore Business Machines since 1984. They had advanced features, such as preemptive multitasking, years before anyone else. Commodore was eventually sold to a German company called Escom AG that eventually went bankrupt. Gateway 2000 purchased the rights to Amiga designs in 1997.
amortized analysis
When analyzing algorithms, an amortized analysis determines the average running time per operation in worst-case scenarios as opposed to average-case scenarios.
A portal device which allows for reliable transmission signals over longer distances by boost taking an attenuated (weakened) broadband signal and cleaning it up, strengthening it, and then sending it along. Note that a repeater is for digital baseband signals whereas an amplifier is for analog broadband signals. See also bridge.
analytical data
Aka informational data, derived data, extracted data, and summary data. Information and data derived from analysis of the operational data. Analytical data is usually derived from snapshots of the operational data.  Analytical data is accessed infrequently but usually looks at a lot of the data.
A Boolean operator that performs a logical conjunction on two expressions. The result of the operation is true if and only if both of the expressions are true. Here is the truth table of the AND operator:
A  AND  B  =  Result
0       0     0
0       1     0
1       0     0
1       1     1
It is common to see an integer parameter that is ANDed with values such as 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, ... to uniquely identify a choice. Those numbers all have a single one in their binary code. Combinations of choices can be selected by comparing the parameter with values which are additions of from the list of numbers with a single one, eg if the parameter is 9, then it is as if both 1 and 8 were passed. 
For open servers, a user who does not already have a user name and password can login with a user name of "anonymous" and a password of their e-mail address.
anonymous function
An anonymous function is a function/subroutine that is defined and possibly called without being bound by an identifier. Here is an example in JavaScript:
function NonAnonDbl(x) {
    return x + x;

var AnonDbl = function (y) {
    return y + y;
American National Standards Institute. Founded in 1918, ANSI is a private, non-profit organization that administers and coordinates the U.S. voluntary standardization and conformity assessment system. An organization that develops standards in many fields, eg they first set a version of COBOL in 1968 as ANS COBOL. ANSI is the US representative to ISO.
ANSI Character Set
Character codes set by ANSI that includes non-English characters, special punctuation, business symbols, and other characters. The ANSI Character Set is utilized in the Windows OS by holding down the Alt key and entering the code with the numeric keypad. The ANSCI Character Set is utilized in the Mac OS by holding down the Opt key and typing the character. Click here for the Character Code Table.
Application Programming Interface. A set of objects, libraries, routines, sub-routines, protocols, and tools for programming applications. The API is used by developers to do work such as accessing databases or manipulate objects. APIs are usually used within an IDE (Integrated Development Environment) for a specific programming language and target platform. APIs help create applications with consistent interfaces, look and feel.
Advanced Program to Program Communication. A protocol that allows programs on different networks to communicate with each other in SNA systems. Each program has an associated LU.
Apple Desktop Bus
See ADB.
Apple File Protocol
See AFP.
(1) A subordinate, small, or embedded application. In one sense, most applications are embedded within an operating system.

(2) A small Java program that is embedded, usually inline, directly to a web page. A Java applet is usually accessed and used by a user within a Java-enabled browser.
A user program, eg a word processor, which actually performs the tasks the user needs as opposed to operating system software.
Application Foundation Classes
See AFC.
.arc or .arj. File compressed via the UNIX arc utility.
A search engine for FTPs. A play on the word "archive."
A conceptual term referring to the overall structure, logical components, and logical interrelationships between hardware and/or software. The basic components are input/output, storage, communication, control, and processing.

An architecture may be described as open or closed. Basically, open architectures tell everyone what they are all about and therefore it is easy to get third party manufacturers and developers. Closed architectures hide their specs so only they can choose who gets to be a third party. EG: Linux has an open architecture whereas regular UNIX is closed.

Here are some major examples of architectures:
  • The OSI (Open Systems Interconnection) model is a major architectural model for how messages are transmitted between points on a network. See OSI and my article on OSI.
  • Each microprocessor (eg Intel's Pentium) has its own architecture and specifications so it knows how to talk with miscellaneous hardware and software.
  • Each operating system (eg Microsoft's Windows) has its own architecture and specifications so it knows how to talk with miscellaneous hardware and software.
  • Computers are often typified as being of one of three architectures: Mainframe/Single-Tier, Client-Server/Two-Tier, and Network/N-Tier. An individual PC might actually participate in all three tier architectures. See my article on Tier Architecture.
To create a single archive file from many files and still maintain directory relationships. Multiple directories/folders and files can be archived and then compressed, eg for UNIX archive with tar and then compress with gzip. Some programs can create self extracting archives.
Attached Resource Computer NETwork. A scheme for forming a network, much less popular than either Ethernet or Token Ring. ARCnet LANs can be set as a bus, star, or star bus topology. See also my article on LANs.
areal density
The storage capacity per area, often measured in Gb/in^2. The superparamagnetic effect is the physical limit to areal density: at such densities magnetic particles can't help but interfere with each other. The limit was thought to be 20 Gb/in^2 but is now guessed to be roughly 40 Gb/in^2. See also access density.
A constant or variable taken as input for a function or subroutine.
Arithmetic Logic Unit
See ALU.
See ARC.
Advanced Research Projects Agency. After the Soviet satellite Sputnik was launched in 1957, President Eisenhower founded ARPA for the US Dept. of Defense. It is ARPA that is largely responsible for heading the development of TCP/IP, the heart of the Internet.
A precursor to the Internet that was four sites connected together in 1969: University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) (first), Stanford Research Institute (SRI), University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB), , and University of Utah. ARPANET was the first packet switching network. By 1971, ARPANET had 15 locations with 26 nodes: UCLA, SRI, UCSB, University of Utah, BBN, MIT, RAND, SDC, Harvard, Lincoln Lab, Stanford, UIUC, CWRU, CMU, and NASA(Ames). See also these off-site links: Link. Link. Link. Link. Link by PBS.
A list. A group of variables that share a common name. Each variable can be individually specified with a subscript of the common name.
Aka AS/400e. IBM's very popular minicomputer that utilizes a 64 b RISC PowerPC processor with up to 1.5 TB of hard disk storage and up to 20 GB of RAM! It is the next step up from IBM's System/36 and 38.

The machine has structural and logical units:
  • Objects. Almost all data entities are objects, including libraries, terminals, printers, databases, programs, and screens.
  • Libraries. Contain other types of objects including, source code, compiled programs, and databases.
  • Files.
  • Members.
  • Folders. Contain documents.
The AS/400 supports SAA (Systems Application Architecture) which facilitates programming for mainframes, mid-range computers, and desktops. The traditional languages of the AS/400 include:
  • RPG/400. Report Program Generator. Originally used for reports but it has expanded to broader applications.
  • COBOL/400. COmmon Business Oriented Language. Can be used for PCs as well.
  • SQL/400. Structured Query Language. A nearly universal language for accessing databases.
  • C/400. An extremely powerful language.
The AS/400 is very secure since it was designed for US Department of Defense specifications.

It is very scalable and comes with a proprietary operating system called OS/400 that has the popular DBMS called DB2/400 built in. The OS is now closely tied to a Java virtual machine. It also now comes packaged with Lotus Domino Notes. This is serious competition for UNIX and NT servers.
The part of a lowercase letter that sticks out above the x-height.
.txt. American Standard Code for Information Interchange. A 7/8-bit standardized format for encoding cross-platform text devised in 1966. When formatted text is saved in ASCII, all character attributes, styles, and paragraph formats are lost.
Standard ASCII uses 7 b per character yielding 128 characters. Use of the 8th bit yields another 128 possible characters. EG: DOS uses the 8th bit for extended ASCII or high ASCII, a superset of Standard ASCII. Many other OSs and the WWW utilize ISO Latin 1, which is another superset of Standard ASCII. Unicode is not a superset of ASCII but uses 16 bits instead of 8.
Note that character codes 31 and 127 are non-printing characters. The difference between a capital letter and its corresponding lowercase letter is 32. See also my article on Character Sets.
(1) .asp. Active Server Pages. A page that contains a combination of HTML, script, and calls to components, for server-side programming. When a user requests a page with the .asp extension, the web server must dynamically generate HTML code that is sent to the user's browser. Scripting (JavaScript, PERL, VBScript, JScript, etc.)  is infused right into the ASP application instead of being a separate app like a CGI or a VB application on an IIS.

To differentiate ASP commands from HTML, the commands are enclosed within an ASP tag (<% ... %>). EG:
<% @ language=VBScript %>
This page was refreshed on <%= Now %>.
Note that ASP tags that start with "<%=" indicate output.

(2) Application Server Provider. Any organization that provide applications. An ASP can develop, implement, and manage an application for a company. These apps are usually desktop apps, networked apps, or web apps. ASPs typically "rent" web apps to companies, i.e. the company does not install any software, they just use browsers.

An ASP can provide apps ranging from human resources, sales, payroll, purchasing, operations, customer service, e-mail, calendar services, and document management. An ASP can provide the facilities, technical hardware, software, staff, and know how; thus theoretically allowing a company to focus on its core business.
A program which converts an assembly language program into machine language.
Files that make up an application. An application may utilize multiple assemblies. An assembly files may be a single .exe, or a single .dll, or multiple files including .exe, [Win32] .dll, and COM (Component Object Model) objects.
assembly language
A programming language which is specific to a type of computer system. See programming languages.
associative array
A hash. An unordered array that is accessed by a name associated with each variable within the list.
Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line
Not in time. An action or event that is not in time with other events. This is good in situations when it doesn't matter what order things happen. EG: It usually doesn't matter that text loads a lot faster than the graphics. Other things have to be synchronous, like audio or video transmission.
Asynchronous Transfer Mode
See ATM.
Advanced Technology. This was an PC model introduced by IBM in 1984. It had an Intel 80286 processor, a 1.2 MB floppy drive and an 84-key AT keyboard.
Advanced Technology Attachment. Aka IDE (Integrated Drive Electronics). Developed by the SFF (Small Form Factor) Committee, it is a disk drive implementation that has the controller right on the disk drive itself. It has gone through many incarnations:
  • ATA/IDE. Supported one or two hard drives, stores up to 528 MB, a 16-bit interface, PIO modes 0, 1 and 2.
  • ATA-2/Fast ATA/EIDE (Enhanced IDE). Supported faster PIO modes (3 and 4) and multiword DMA modes (1 and 2). 4-16.6 Mb/s data transfer Also supported logical block addressing (LBA) and block transfers. It is supported by Seagate Technologies.
  • ATA-3: A revision of ATA-2.
  • ATA-33/Ultra-ATA/Ultra-DMA/DMA-33. Supported multiword DMA mode 3 running and 33 Mb/s data transfer.
  • ATA/66. Supports 66 Mb/s. Supported by Quantum Corporation and Intel.
  • ATA/100. Supports 100 Mb/s.
See also SCSI.
AT Attachment Packet Interface. An interface between some computers and their CD-ROM drives and tape back up. ATAPI is part of EIDE's improvements over IDE. See ATA.
AT bus
16 bit data bus used in 286 and greater PCs.
Asynchronous Transfer Mode. ATM is packet switching, cell relay protocol set by the CCITT utilizing 53 byte packets of info. The size and predictability of the cells enables ATM to deal with real time data such as audio and video. ATM can transfer data at rates from 25-622 Mb/s, contrast that with the 100 Mb/s of Ethernet.

ATM is packet switching but it is done over fixed channels, making ATM sort of like circuit switching. The channels will usually come in 4 varieties: CBR (Constant Bit Rate), VBR (Variable Bit Rate), UBR (Unspecified Bit Rate), or ABR (Available Bit Rate).
Attached Resource Computer NETwork
See ARCnet.
.au. A cross-platform sound file format for the web by Sun Microsystems. Its most popular kind of sound sample encoding is 8-bit. Its sound quality is equivalent to a telephone.
Attached Unit Interface. A cable which runs between a transceiver latched onto a thick coaxial cable and the network interface card of a computer.
Acceptable Use Policy.
Automatic Execute Batch. A file that can be modified by the user and is invoked at startup by command.com on PCs. it contains DOS batch file commands, basic operations the user wants performed at start up, eg to open a specific word processor.
A technology that allows one application (a server or object application) to expose (make available) some of its features to another application (a client or controlling application). A Visual Basic programmer could use Automation to utilize the features of other programs like MS Word or MS Access in his or her own program.
.avi. A video file format for Windows.
A pattern matching program common to UNIX for processing files, especially files in databases. Variations include gawk, nawk, and oawk.
Abstract Windows Toolkit. The Java API that lets programmers develop Java programs that utilize a GUI (windows, buttons, point-and-click, scroll bars, etc.). The Java Virtual Machine translates the AWT calls to the calls that the host operating system can understand. In theory, the Java program should then have a consistent format regardless of the OS it is run on.

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