Basic Computer Definitions

Applications, also called programmes, use the platform to perform tasks.

Authentication is the process by which the computer system validates a user's logon information.

Authorisation is the process by which the user can associate specific permissions with each username.

A bit is the smallest unit of information that a computer handles. A single bit can hold only one of two values, 0 or 1.

A byte is a combination of eight bits arranged in sequence.

Central Processing Unit (CPU)
The central processing unit (CPU) is the primary hardware device that interprets and runs the commands you give to the computer.

Chat Programme
Chat programmes allow you to send and receive messages instantly. You can use a chat programme to communicate with several people at the same time.

A command is an instruction which you give to a computer, which causes an action to be carried out. Commands are either typed by using a keyboard or are chosen from a menu.

Communication Channel
A communication channel is a path or a link that connects computers or peripheral devices, such as printers and disk drives, to transfer information.

Communication Programmes
Communication programmes are used by computers to exchange messages and files with other people in a digital format.

CPU speed
The CPU speed is the rate at which the CPU can perform a task, such as moving data to and from RAM or performing a numerical calculation.

Data is the plural for the Latin word datum, meaning an item of information.

Database Programmes
Database programmes are used to store and manage data in an organised way. You can also use these programmes to sort or search for information stored in a database.

The desktop is an on-screen work area that uses a combination of menus and icons.

Desktop Computers
Desktop computers are made up of individual components such as a monitor, a keyboard, a system unit and a printer.

An electronic mail (e-mail) is the electronic form of a traditional letter. E-mail allows you to exchange messages and files over a network.

A folder is a container for programmes and files in GUI interfaces.

One gigabyte (GB) is equal to 1,024 MB, which is approximately equal to one billion bytes.

Graphical User Interface (GUI)
A graphical user interface (GUI) displays images and pictures that allow a computer user to interact with a computer easily.

Graphics Programmes
Graphics programmes are used to create and edit drawings. You can also use these programmes to enhance photographs.

Handheld Computer
Handheld computers are smaller than laptop computers and provide fewer features than desktop computers or laptop computers. They are used for specific everyday tasks, such as managing personal data.

Hardware refers to all the physical components of a computer.

An icon is a small image displayed on the screen to represent an object.

Input Devices
An input device is used to provide information to a computer. A keyboard is an example of an input device.

The Internet is a worldwide collection of public networks that are linked to each other for information exchange.

Internet Service Provider (ISP)
An ISP is a company that provides Internet connectivity to individuals, businesses and organisations.
An intranet is a special type of network used to communicate and share information within an organisation.

One kilobyte (KB) is equal to 1,024 bytes.

Laptop Computers
Laptop computers are lightweight and portable personal computers. Laptop computers are also called notebook computers.

Local Area Network (LAN)
A LAN connects devices within a limited area, such as a home or a small group of offices.

One megabyte (MB) is equal to 1,024 KB.

A menu is a list of options from which a user can select an option to perform a desired action, such as choosing a command or applying a particular format to part of a document. Many programmes, especially those that offer a graphical interface, use menus as a means of providing the user with an easy-to-use alternative to memorising programme commands and their appropriate usage.

A network is a group of computers that are connected to share resources and exchange information.

Network Drives
A network drive is a disk drive that is shared with other computers on a network.

Notification Area
The notification area is located on the right side of the taskbar when the taskbar is located at the bottom of a screen. The notification area displays the time, a volume icon and icons of some programmes that are running on a computer.

When a computer is connected to the Internet, it is said to be online.

Operating System
The operating system controls the computer's hardware and provides services and access to the hardware to programmes. It also manages the computer's operations and tasks, such as logging on, logging off and shutting down.

The hardware and the operating system together are referred to as a platform.

Presentation Programmes
Presentation programmes are used to present information in the form of slides.

Processing Devices
Processing devices are used by computer users to process the input data and generate the desired output.

A programme is a sequence of instructions that can be executed by a computer. A programme is also known as software.

Publishing Programmes
Publishing programmes are used to combine text and graphics to create documents such as brochures, greeting cards, annual reports, books or magazines.

The server is the main computer on a network that provides services to other computers on the network. A server decides which computers are allowed to access the hardware and software on the network.

Setup Wizard
Setup wizards are provided by Windows XP. They guide the user through each step of a particular task, such as installing hardware or software.

Software is a sequence of instructions that a computer can execute. It is also referred to as programmes.

Spreadsheet Programmes
Spreadsheet programmes are used to create budgets, manage accounts, perform mathematical calculations and convert numerical data into charts and graphs.

Storage Devices
Storage devices are used to store data. A hard disk is an example of a storage device.

System Unit
A system unit refers to the box that holds the processor, motherboard, disk drives, power supply and the expansion bus.

Tablet Computer
Tablet computers are computers that allow you to write directly on the screen by using a tablet pen.

The taskbar is a rectangular bar that is usually located at the bottom of the screen. You can use the taskbar to select a programme running on your computer.

One terabyte is equal to 1,024 GB, approximately equal to one trillion bytes.

The Web
The Web, also known as the World Wide Web (WWW), is a collection of information that is accessible on the Internet. This information is arranged logically and stored on computers known as Web servers.

Wallpaper is a pattern or picture on the screen background that you can choose.

Wide Area Network (WAN)
A WAN is a network that connects devices in geographically separated areas.

In Windows XP, a window is a rectangular area on the monitor that displays a programme. Each programme has its own window.

Word-processing Programmes
Word-processing programmes are used to create and modify text-based documents.

A workstation refers to a computer connected to a network. You use a workstation to access the hardware and software on a network.
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