Jargon Buster

About this glossary

This is a technical glossary or knowledge base that attempts to explain some of the computer terms you may stumble upon while using the NEBDN Moodle site, and in your travels around the Internet. You may also find it helpful for troubleshooting any technical issues you may have with your machine.

Its purpose is to help you get to grips with technical terminology that may be unfamiliar to you. It also offers a reasonably good list of technical abbreviations and Internet related terminology that some people might find helpful. This Jargon Buster is searchable. However, you may need to scroll down the page in order to view the search results.

The world of information technology is changing very rapidly. Consequently, this knowledge base is still very much a work-in-progress. Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of its content, it is supplied as-is with no warranty, express or implied.


I have been assembling this glossary for nearly twenty years and have referred to literally hundreds of different sources. However these are the main ones. For purposes of standardisation, this knowledge base uses a modified form of Harvard referencing for web pages. Some individual definitions include references specific to that particular definition. However, here are some of the generic resources that were used throughout this knowledge base. These resources provide their own built-in search engines and generally offer more detail than provided in this knowledge base.

  • The Free Dictionary | 2009 | Encyclopedia | on-line | http://encyclopedia2.thefreedictionary.com | last accessed 2009-12-29
  • Sharpened.net | 1999-2009 | The Sharpened Glossary | on-line | http://www.sharpened.net/glossary | last accessed 2009-12-29.
  • Wikipedia | 2009 | home page | on-line | http://en.wikipedia.org | last accessed 2009-12-29.

Jargon Buster © 1997-2016, Garfield Lucas MSc BA

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An abbreviation for the Intel 80386 microprocessor.



An abbreviation for the Intel 80486 microprocessor.


80386 microprocessor

Intel 80386 microprocessor, was the predecessor of the 486. It provided the data processing power needed to run Microsoft DOS and Windows 3.1, Windows 95 and Windows NT 3.5x. Early Unix and GNU/Linux variants would run on it too. There were a number of different types of 386 chip both with and without built-in maths coprocessor.

80486 microprocessor

The Intel 80486 microprocessor was the predecessor of the Intel Pentium Microprocessor. It provided the data processing power needed to run Microsoft DOS and Windows 3.1, Windows 95, Windows 98 and Windows NT 4.0. Early Unix and GNU/Linux variants would run on it too. There were a number of different types of 486 chip.



American National Standards Institute

ANSI is a standards organisation responsible for many technical standards, including the ANSI.SYS file used under DOS to control various attributes of the display of characters on the screen. This can be mimicked by other computers using ANSI terminal emulation to enhance the interface of PC-based bulletin boards.


American Standard Code for Information Interchange

Computers can only understand numbers, so an ASCII code is the numerical representation of a character such as "a" or "@".

Also see: ASCII character set, ASCII encoding, ASCII file transfers.




The Apache HTTP Server, commonly referred to as Apache (pronounced /əˈpætʃiː/), is free, open source web server software that played a key part in the initial growth of the Worldwide Web. In 2009 it became the first web server software to have been used on more than 100 million web servers.

It's biggest rival today is Microsoft's Internet Information Server, though IIS will only run on Windows Systems, whereas Apache HTTP Server will run on all modern operating systems including GNU/Linux, Apple OS X and Microsoft Windows. Apache was also the first viable alternative to the old Netscape Communications Corporation web server (currently known as Sun Java System Web Server), and has since evolved to rival other Unix-based web servers in terms of functionality and performance.

The majority of web servers using Apache also run the GNU/Linux operating system. Apache HTTP Server is a key part of the LAMPP Stack.



A program or group of programs belonging to a class of software designed to manage a particular computing task. Thus, Microsoft Excel is a spreadsheet application. Applications need an operating system in order to work.


An Internet Service which assists in locating files available from public FTP sites, providing you know the name of the file. Some say that Archies were the first real Internet search engines, created long before Google and Yahoo. Nevertheless, Archies have mainly fallen into disuse, due to the increased popularity of the worldwide web.

However this worldwide web based Archie at Warsaw University in Poland is still going strong:-


American Standard Code for Information Interchange.


ASCII character set

American Standard Code for Information Interchange allows different computer types to share information. Each of the 128 ASCII characters are described by a 7-bit code, most of which are represented by a key on the computer keyboard. In practice, ASCII means the same as text.

Also see: binary file and extended character set.


ASCII encoding

The process of converting binary files into ASCII files so that they can be transmitted as e-mail. The common types of encoding are BinHex, MIME, and uuencode.


ASCII file transfer

The transfer of a file containing 7-bit text type data. Although the term is in common use, ASCII is a set of codes/characters and not a standard for file transfers.


aspect ratio

The ratio of a screen's width to its height. Traditionally, computer monitors, and conventional television screens have an aspect ratio of 4/3, sometimes represented as 1.3333333. More recent screens are proportionately wider with aspect ratios typically 16:9. The aspect ratio of 35mm film and upmarket digital cameras is 3:2.

asymmetric digital subscriber line

Asymmetric digital subscriber line is a form of DSL, a data communications technology that enables faster data transmission over copper telephone lines than a conventional voiceband modem can provide. It does this by using the high frequencies (typically above 5kHz) that are not used by a voice telephone call. A a splitter or bandpass filter, called a microfilter, allows a single telephone line to be used for both ADSL service and voice calls at the same time.

ADSL can generally only be distributed over short distances from the telephone exchange, typically less than 4 kilometres. ADSL is often referred to as broadband.

Abbreviation: ADSL.



A copy of data that is stored separately from the original so that the data may be restored from the backup should the original data become damaged, due to hardware or software failures.

Data storage media such as hard disks and USB sticks can, and do fail. Therefore if your work is important to you, then you must back it up!


Bandwidth is the capacity of a communications channel to transmit information. Modem connections to the Internet via a telephone line are low bandwidth relative to a SuperJANET connection, for example. Bandwidth is said to be congested when many users are sharing the same communications channel, using up the available bandwidth. Bandwidth is usually expressed in term of frequency, i.e. kHz or MHz.


A unit which to measure the speed of modems run roughly equivalent to 1 bit per second. It is synonymous to symbols per second or pulses per second.

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