BIOS: An acronym for Basic Input/Output System. A computer’s BIOS contains the lowest level software needed to start the computer.

CARD: A common term for a printed circuit board. On many computers, graphics, sound, and other components are installed on cards, which makes them easier to change and upgrade.

CPU: An acronym for central processing unit, the CPU is responsible for doing much of the work that a personal computer performs.

CD-ROM: Compact disc, read-only memory. A popular storage device used for software distribution.

CD-R: A compact disc that can be recorded on. This media is very popular for recording music, backing-up hard drives and many other purposes.

CRT: Cathode Ray Tube. CRTs are used for many television and computer monitor displays. These are your big, bulky monitors; not your thin flat panel displays.

DVD: Digital Versatile Disc. DVD’s are similar to CD-ROMs, but they have many times more capacity.

DVD-R: A DVD disc that can be recorded on, much like a CD-R.

DEFRAGMENT: The process of organizing the data on a hard-disk drive, so that data can be located and retrieved as quickly as possible.

DRIVER: Special software to enable a computer’s hardware to communicate with the computer’s operating system.

ETHERNET: A very widely used local-area network technology.

EXPANSION BUS: A collection of electrical slots holding printed circuit boards. (See cards.)

FIREWALL: A security program or device that prevents other people from accessing your computer through the Internet without your permission.

FRAGMENTED: A condition in which the data stored on a hard-disk drive is scattered all around the disc, which makes the drive run slower while retrieving the data. (See Defragment.)

GIGABYTE: A unit of measure for permanent (hard disk) and temporary (RAM) electronic storage. One gigabyte consists of roughly one thousand megabytes.

HARD DISK DRIVE: An electromagnetic device used for long-term storage of software programs and the projects you create with them. Storage capacity is expressed in Gigabytes. (20GB, 40GB, etc.)

LAN: Local-Area Network. Networks are used to link many computers together, to make it easier to share files and peripheral devices.

LCD: Liquid Crystal Display. Once limited to laptop computers, LCD monitors are now becoming increasingly popular as desktop monitors.

MEGABYTE: A unit of measure for permanent (hard disk) and temporary (RAM) electronic storage. One megabyte consists of roughly one thousand kilobytes.

MOTHERBOARD: A computer’s main printed circuit board, on which the CPU, memory, and expansion bus are located.

NIC: Network Interface Card. A NIC must be installed on each computer that will be part of a local-area network.

RAM: Random Access Memory. RAM is the temporary electronic storage for whatever software you’re running at a given moment, in addition to whatever project you’re working on at the time. RAM is usually expressed in Megabytes (128MB, 256MB, etc.), but some larger computers have the capacity for gigabyte RAM.

USB: Universal Serial Bus. USB ports are used to connect printers, keyboards, mice, joysticks, and other peripherals to a personal computer.

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