A little over 17 years ago I started working with computers. Like most people when they first start with computers I was clueless with all these terms and acronyms accompanied with using computers. If you are a newbie or maybe even low-intermediate user I hope to enlighten you of at least one new term covered in this article.
OS: Operating System. The essential piece of software to use any type of computer. Whether it be a graphing calculator to the computer you used to get this article there is an OS instructing the computer how to turn the information it receives into something you understand..
Tech Fact: Microsoft DID NOT steal the idea of a GUI (Graphical User Interface) from Apple, in fact, they both got the idea from Xerox who developed the GUI and the mouse. Microsoft just released their product a little before the Macintosh was released and a lot of people hate them for that.
Install/Setup: These terms are used almost interchangeably. They are used when a new piece of software is put on the computer. Most of the time a program will have a ‘setup.exe’ program which when executed will ‘install’ all the files on your computer.
Download: This term is used when you are getting a file FROM a Web site. DOWN means FROM server.
Upload: Web masters should know this term more than an every day user. This means YOU are sending files TO a Web server. UP means TO server.
Hard Drive: This is the physical piece of hardware that holds all the information. Information is stored using binary. This is the only thing that a computer can understand. Binary is a system that only has 2 states, on or off, 1 or 0. This is also referred to as a base 2 system. Our decimal number system is a base 10. Another popular number system in the computer world is called Hexadecimal, this is a base 16 system where the values are expressed as 0-9 and A-F, A being 10 and so on.
Byte: A byte is made up of 8 bits which is a 1 or a 0 in the binary system. A single byte with a value of 0 would look like this
0000 0000 (the space is added for readability, to see the numbers in blocks of 4). To count in binary you must know the powers of 2. 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128. Using these values and switching on and off numbers in the byte can produce a number from 0 to 255, or 256 values (including the 0).
I explain more about binary in it’s own article.
Kilobyte (KB): Because data storage is measured in bytes which is a base 2 system a kilobyte is made up of 1024 bytes. Most of the time it is rounded down to 1000 for simplicity. 1024 is 210
Megabyte (MB): Megabyte.
Central Processing Unit: This is the ‘brain’ of the computer that determines the speed of the computer.
Megahertz (MHz): 1,000,000 (one million) hertz. This measures the amount of cycles or lines of code the CPU can execute per second. 800 MHz has 800,000,000 cycles per second.
Gigahertz (GHz): Gigahertz. 1,000,000,000 (one billion) hertz.
This is just skimming the surface of all the techie computer terms that are out there. If there are terms that you think should be on this list please leave a comment below. If you heard a term and would like to know what it means, please leave a comment and I will add it.