Glossary of Computer Terms
By Walton Dell

Copyright � 1997-2020 By Walton Dell Consulting
All Rights Reserved.

This glossary is highly hyperlinked together.  It is also linked to from my many computer articles and tutorials in the Computer Support section of my web site.

Alphanumeric, ASCII, Backward Compatible, Bandwidth, Binary, BIOS, Bit, Bug, Button, Byte, CD-R, CD-ROM, Click, Client Computer, Clipboard, Close, Compression, Copy, Cut, Data, Decompression, Decryption, Default, Desktop, Dialog Box, DOS, Double-click, Drag, Drive, Driver Software, , DVD, DVD-ROM, E-mail, Encryption, File, Floppy Disk, Focus, Folder, Text Formatting, Hard Disk, Icon, Internet, ISP, Junk, Keyboard, Maximize, Memory, Mime, Minimize, Modem, Monitor, Mouse, Mouse Cursor, Nest, OEM, Open, Operating System, Paste, Program, Protocol, RAM, Real-time, Restore, Right-click, ROM, Save, Select, Select-then-do, Server, Shut-down Command, Software, Taskbar, Text Cursor, Toggle, Toolbar, UUencode, Web, Web Browser, Web Page, window, window pane, MS Windows, MS Windows 3.1, MS Windows 95, MS Windows 98, WYSIWYG, Y2K.


An alphanumeric character is any letter of the alphabet or any digit from 0 to 9.


ASCII (pronounced as-key) is short for American Standard Code for Information Interchange. It is a standard code that assigns a binary number to all the alphanumeric characters (upper and lower case), all the symbols on the keyboard, and some other symbols not on the keyboard (such as the cents symbol: �). All computers have been using this standard code for more than a decade, and this is how plain text is saved on a disk. This standard does not define any formatting however (except end of line), so word processors each have their own file type that includes formatting information as well.

Backward Compatible

A program is backward compatible if it can use files from an older version of itself.  For a file saved in the program to be backward compatible, it must be possible to open the file in a previous version of the program.


Bandwidth is the rate at which data that can be transferred through a connection. A standard PC modem has a very low bandwidth of about 3,000 to 5,000 bytes per second. The very high speed lines that make up the backbone of the Internet are much faster, at least 1,000,000 bytes per second!  Note that bandwidth is not exactly the same as speed.  If you only want to transfer one byte, it may not get where it is going any faster with high-bandwidth than it would with low-bandwidth.  However, if you want to transfer a million bytes, then high-bandwidth will definitely help!  You can think of high-bandwidth as like drinking juice with a fat straw, whereas low bandwidth is like drinking juice with one of those thin coffee straws.


Binary is an alternative number system which works very well for computers. Humans have ten fingers; that's probably why we use ten digits (0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9) in our number system (decimal), but it is easier for a computer to use only two digits (0 and 1). Ones and zeros can be represented with high or low voltage, closed or open switches, aligned or misaligned magnetic particles, etc. A byte is a group of eight bits, and it is the standard unit by which data is stored. There are 256 different combinations of zeros and ones you can make with one byte, from 00000000 to 11111111. This is enough to cover all the ASCII characters.  If more than 256 values are needed, then more than one byte can be used.  With two bytes, there are 65536 possible combinations of ones and zeros. These bytes can represent any kind of data.  For example, a picture may be made up of thousands of pairs of bytes, with each pair of bytes representing a single dot in one of 65536 colors.  Put together all these dots (known as pixels) and you have a full-color picture (most picture data is also compressed).  

On systems using Microsoft Windows, the meaning of data stored on a disk is determined by the file's extension. For example: if it is TXT, then it is ASCII text; if it is EXE, then it is a program (an executable).


BIOS stands for Basic Input and Output Software. The BIOS is software that controls the most fundamental operations of a computer and a BIOS is necessary in order to start a computer. Without a BIOS, a computer would not know how to communicate with its hard disk and other devices. The BIOS is stored on a ROM (Read-Only Memory) computer chip inside the computer. Many computers in the past few years use "Flash EPROM" chips, which means the BIOS chip can be reprogrammed with an updated BIOS. A BIOS may need to be updated to fix bugs, such as the year 2000 bug, or an update may be necessary in order to support new hardware protocols.


Bit is short for binary digit. A bit can be a zero or a one. See also: Binary.


A bug is a glitch in computer software or hardware (where something doesn't do what it is supposed to do).  Since computers and computer software are very complicated to design, human beings will make mistakes in the design.   Unfortunately, in the rush to market, many of these mistakes are not found until after a product has shipped.  This is why fixes (also called patches) are often posted on web sites.  When considering the quality of a product, one must consider not only the number of bugs, but also the value of the features of a program, since a feature-rich program is likely to have more bugs than a "plain-vanilla" program.
See also: Software Bugs Explained.


A button does some command in a program when it is clicked. Buttons usually have a 3-dimensional look, although you may have to move the mouse over the button for it to look 3D. You should single-click on buttons (do not double-click).


A byte is eight binary digits. It is the smallest unit a computer works with at once. The bits of a byte can be individually modified, but a computer still works with at least one byte at a time. See also: Binary and my article on Bits and Bytes.


Compact Disc Recordable. A special type of compact disc which can have information written onto it once. You must have a special CD-R drive to write to these discs, but most CD-ROM drives can read them.


Compact Disc - Read Only Memory. A CD-ROM is any compact disc which contains computer data. These discs can store huge amounts of data (up to 640 megabytes). If there is a large amount of data on a CD-ROM, then it is usually impractical to copy the data on to the hard disk; in this case, you must insert the disc whenever you want to use the data. The ROM simply means that you can not save information onto these discs. CD-ROM may also refer to the drive used to read these discs.  See also: DVD-ROM


To press and let go of the mouse button quickly (after first pointing the mouse cursor at an object on the screen). See also: double-click and right-click.

Client Computer

A client computer is a computer which is requesting information from a server computer.


The clipboard is a temporary storage area inside the computer. It is used to copy or move data from one program to another, or from one area of a document to another. See also: How to Use the Clipboard


To close a program means to end a program. Click the X button in the top right corner of a window to close that program. When you close a program, it is no longer active. If you have not saved a file when you close a program, the program will first display a dialog box asking if you would like to save your file before closing the program. If you choose YES, the program will save the file, then close. If you choose NO, the program will not save the file, but the program will still close (you will have lost the unsaved data). If you choose CANCEL, the program will NOT close.


Computer data can sometimes be made to take less space. This is called compression. One way compression works is by looking for common patterns of data (such as entire words) and storing short "abbreviations" for these patterns. A table of abbreviations and what they stand for is included at the beginning of a compressed file. These abbreviations are always unique, so they will never interfere with your own abbreviations in text you write. When the file is needed, it must be decompressed (the abbreviations are then expanded out to the original patterns). One disadvantage from using a compressed hard disk is that disk access can take longer.


See my article: How to use the Clipboard (to Cut, Copy, and Paste).


See my article: How to use the Clipboard (to Cut, Copy, and Paste).


Data is information.  There are many types of data, including sound, graphics, and text.  Most data on a computer is stored in files on the hard disk, which are made up of bytes.   Computer programs are also data, though many people may use the word data to mean information stored on the computer by the end user.


See Compression.


The restoring of data to its unencrypted state. To decrypt data you need a password. See also: Encryption and Decryption


The default setting is the setting which will be assumed unless you change it. For example, the default color for text in most web browsers is black, however, I can make text green or any color I want (by overriding the default). Another example, programs will install by default to hard disk C (the first hard disk), but most programs will allow you to install to another hard disk.


This is what you see on your computer screen when you have no windows open. It may be a solid color, or it may be graphics. On the desktop, there will be icons, including one called "My Computer" and one called "The Recycle Bin."

Dialog box

This is a small window that is demanding your attention. You must respond before you can continue using the program that displayed the dialog box. A dialog box does not have a minimize or maximize button and does not show up on the taskbar. It is only a portion of its "parent" program. Most dialog boxes have a cancel button.


DOS stands for Disk Operating System. DOS was the standard operating system for PCs before Windows was created.   It required the user to type commands at a boring screen with no pictures, no sound, no mouse, no color.  As time progressed, there were some good programs written for DOS that did offer these features (pictures, sounds, etc.), but each program usually worked in its own way, and you had to know DOS to get to the programs.  Then Windows was invented.  At first, Windows was just an add-on to DOS, but now it is the standard operating system.  DOS is still included in Windows 98, though for backward compatibility.


Move your mouse pointer over the object, then press the left mouse button twice in a row quickly. Be VERY careful to not move the mouse as you double-click. If you move the mouse while trying to double-click, you may end up dragging the object instead of double-clicking it.


Move the mouse pointer over the object you wish to drag, then hold down the left mouse button. While holding the mouse button, move the mouse pointer (and the object) to the location you want it, then let go of the mouse button. This will move or copy the object to the new location, depending on the context.


Any data storage device. This includes your CD-ROM drive, floppy disk drive, and hard disk drive.

Driver software

Driver software is software that works as a translator between another program and some piece of hardware. In the software industry, there are generally standard ways to do things. There are many different types of hardware, however, and each piece of hardware may have its own protocol (or "language").  The driver software receives standard signals from another program, then translates these into commands for a particular piece of hardware.   This way a program can be written in a standard way, and it will work with many different devices.


DVD is a new technology very similar to compact discs.  A DVD looks just like an ordinary compact disc, however a DVD can hold up to 25 times as much as a CD!!  That's 18 gigabytes!!   This gives enough room to hold an entire movie at twice the quality of VHS with theater quality sound (better than CD-quality).  Since it is on a disc, you can jump to any scene instantly, and you never need to rewind.

A DVD-ROM is a DVD disc for a computer.  This means a multimedia encyclopedia can have even more multimedia with much better quality (on DVD-ROM).  You must have a DVD-ROM drive to use DVD-ROM discs.  If you have a DVD-ROM drive, then you can also play DVD movies on your computer.  Many systems with DVD-ROM can output the video and sound to your TV and home audio system, so you may not have to buy a separate DVD player.   See also: CD-ROM


E-mail stands for electronic mail. Most networks support some form of email. The most popular, of course, is Internet email. E-mail allows you to send text (such as a letter) to another person on another computer. In order to send an email, you have to know the email address of the recipient. Internet email addresses always start with the user's account name, then the at sign (@), then the name of the computer where the user gets his or her email. You can never have spaces in email or Web addresses. For example, my email address is:
See also: My article, Understanding Internet Addresses


The mathematical modification of data based on a password (or key) for security purposes. See also: Encryption and Decryption


A file is a long sequence of bytes which represent data. Each file has a name and an extension which are separated by a dot (a period). The name, of course, identifies the file. The extension tells the computer what type of data is contained within the file. For example, a file called "Letter to George.DOC" is a Microsoft Word DOCUMENT. The file you are reading now is called "glossary.html". HTML stands for HyperText Markup Language, and it is the file type for web pages.

Floppy Disk

A round, flexible piece of magnetic media stored within a 3.5 inch square protective plastic case. One floppy disk can store 1.44 megabytes of data. Because floppy disks use magnetic media, they must be kept away from magnets, or the data on them could be erased! Computer speakers are magnetically shielded to prevent erasure of floppy disks, but standard speakers are not!


When you use a dialog box with many items to fill out, only one of the items can be accepting input from the keyboard at a time. The active item is said to be the item with the focus. You can press the TAB key to move the focus to the next item; press SHIFT+TAB to move the focus to the previous item.  The item with the focus will usually have a dashed border around it, or it will have a blinking text cursor in it.


A folder can be thought of as a location on your hard disk or floppy disk. Folders used to be called directories/subdirectories. A folder contains files and can contain nested folders (subfolders). Folders and subfolders are used to organize your hard disk. For example, you probably already have a folder named "My Documents" on your hard disk; you could place a subfolder named "Work" under "My Documents", and place all your work documents within this subfolder. This way, you can keep your work documents separate from your personal documents.

Formatting, Text

Text formatting refers to the attributes of text other than the actual text itself.   For example, bold, italics, underlining, color, and size, are all formatting attributes of text.  The location of text can also be considered part of the formatting.  Text can be automatically centered, indented, or positioned in other ways.  When you wish to change the format of text, you usually have to select the text, then do the formatting by clicking the appropriate buttons.   Occasionally, there are exceptions to the select-then-do paradigm.  In Microsoft Word, there is a feature called Format Painter with which you click some already formatted text, then click the Format Painter toolbar button, then drag the mouse cursor across some other text.  The other text will be "painted" with the formatting of the original text selected.  If you double-click the Format Painter button, then it will be "locked" and you can paint lots of text.  When you are done, click the Format Painter button again to turn it off.

Hard Disk

A storage device inside your computer. Your hard disk is represented by the letter C. You can not physically see your hard disk without opening up your computer, however there is usually a light on the front of a computer which shows when the hard disk is being accessed. Modern hard disks can store more than a thousand times as much as a single standard floppy disk. A hard disk is what permanently stores all the data and programs in your computer. A hard disk is not the computer's memory, however.


An icon is a picture used to represent an object. Some example objects are: data files, program files, folders, email messages, and drives. Each type of object has a different icon. That means that different types of files each have an icon representing its file type. MS Word files will have the MS Word icon; MS Excel files will have the MS Excel icon; Etc.


See: What is the Internet? and Understanding Internet Addresses.


ISP stands for Internet Service Provider. Typically you will pay an ISP about $20 a month to have access to the Internet through them. When you go on the Internet, your computer will dial their computer and then you will be able to send and receive email, view web pages, etc. See also my articles: What is the Internet? and Understanding Internet Addresses.


I may use this term to refer to things which should not exist at all. Or, I may use this term to refer to things which a beginner may find in their computer, but should ignore. In the future, I hope it will be possible to adjust how much technical junk you see on your computer (specifically: most of the thousands of files on a typical computer are files which make the computer run, but are never used directly).


A keyboard is a device for entering text into a computer. Important: The letters you type will appear wherever the focus (the text cursor) is on the screen, not the mouse.  In other words, you can not just move the mouse somewhere and start typing, you must click to move the focus, then you may type.


Maximize means to make a window take up the full screen. To maximize, click once on the button that has a picture of a square. It is next to the X (Close button) in the top right corner of a window. If it looks like two overlapping squares, then the window is already maximized, and that button is now the restore button. Once a window has been maximized, you can no longer resize it without restoring it. Do not get restore and minimize mixed up.


The word memory, used by itself, refers to random access memory (RAM). See RAM.


MIME stands for Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions. MIME is a method for attaching files to an email. MIME allows 8-bit binary data to be included in the email rather than encoding the binary data as pure text.
See also: UUENCODE.


Minimize means to shrink a program down so that it is only displayed on the task bar. To minimize, click once on the leftmost button of the three in the top right corner of a window. It looks like an underscore [ _ ]. When you minimize a program, it remains active. You can bring it back by clicking on the task bar button with the program's name on it.


A modem is a device which allows your computer to communicate with another computer over phone lines. Usually you will have a modem inside your computer (internal), but there are external modems which plug into the back of a computer. A modem is used to connect to an Internet Service Provider which provides access to the Internet. All modern modems are also capable of sending and receiving faxes, but you must have fax software running to do either.

Trivia: What does modem stand for? Answer: It stands for modulator/demodulator!


Your monitor is the display (the computer screen). Common monitor sizes are 14", 15", and 17". Note: the actual viewing area of any monitor is usually about an inch less than the size given (which is the "tube size"). An important difference between monitors is the dot pitch. The dot pitch determines how small a dot the monitor can produce, the smaller the dots, the sharper the image. The standard dot pitch is 0.28 mm. Do not settle for a larger dot pitch. Monitors also have a speed rating called refresh rate. Unfortunately, the refresh rate depends on the mode used, so it can be confusing. Ideally, your monitor should refresh at 75 Hz or better for the mode you use most.

Personally, I've been very satisfied with my 17" Sony Trinitron monitor (the Multiscan 200sx). It has a dot pitch of 0.25 mm, and it can refresh at 84hz in 1024x768 mode (or 120hz in 640x480 mode!).


Often, I may use the word mouse to refer to the mouse cursor.  A mouse, in computer terminology, is a device you can move to select items on the computer screen.  On the screen, you will see a mouse cursor which you can move by moving the mouse.   See also: click, double-click, drag.

Mouse Cursor

The mouse cursor is a little picture that represents the location on the screen you want to select.  You can move the mouse cursor by moving the mouse device.  Once the mouse cursor is over the item to want to interact with, you can click or double-click to activate that item.  In many cases, the picture you see for the mouse cursor will change, depending on what is underneath it.  For example, if you move the mouse cursor over this link, the mouse cursor will probably change into a pointing hand (depending on your software).  This indicates that you can single-click to go to that link.

Please note that there is a separate text cursor that shows where text will appear as you type.  You can not just move the mouse cursor to where you want text and start typing; you must first click to move the text cursor to that location.

See also: text cursor, click, double-click, drag.


To place within a data type, a block of the same data type. For example, you might send someone a document which contains additional documents. The additional documents are nested within the main document.


OEM stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer.  OEM software (and hardware) is meant for companies buying bulk and pre-installing the product on many computers. When you buy OEM products, you typically do not get a manual or any fancy packaging. Just a license and disks.


You must open a file to view or edit it.  When you open a file, it is copied from the hard disk into the computer's high-speed memory.  Memory is temporary workspace only.  If you change the file, you must save it (which copies the file back to the permanent hard disk).

Operating system (OS)

OS stands for Operating System.  The operating system is the program which runs a computer. The operating system takes care of managing files and folders (such as renaming, moving, copying, and deleting files). It also provides you the ability to start the other software you have on your computer.  In addition, any modern operating system usually provides many APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) that make it easy to write advanced programs without reinventing the wheel.  For example, any modern graphical operating system will include the ability for a program to create a button. Operating Systems also usually include many programs, such as a text editor, that are almost essential to have on every computer.  Windows 98 is the most common operating system for modern computers.

See also: My Opinion on Microsoft vs. DOJ


See my article: How to use the Clipboard (to Cut, Copy, and Paste).


A program is a set of instruction sequences for a computer. Each sequence provides the program with a particular function (for example, most programs have a print function). Altogether, these instruction sequences make up the entire application. One application, for example, is a word processor. A word processor will have a file open function which you can access by clicking the file menu, then clicking open (referred to as the open command). It will also have a file save function, a print function, a spell check function, and many more.


A protocol is a method of communication between two devices.  You can think of it as the language the devices use to communicate with each other, although it is not the same as a programming language (by which a human programmer controls a computer).   Different brands of printers, for example, each use their own protocol (or "language") by which a computer can communicate with the printer.  This is why a driver program must be written for each printer.


RAM is short for Random Access Memory, usually just referred to as memory. A computer's memory is not like its hard disk which is permanent storage. Memory can only store information while the computer is on, however it is much faster than a hard disk. A hard disk is a mechanical device, but memory is on computer chips, and information can be accessed from anywhere on the chip almost instantly. When you open a document, it is copied from the hard disk into the computer's memory. There, it can be easily edited; words can be inserted into a letter, and the rest of the document quickly shifts to accommodate the new words. When you save the document, all your changes will be copied from the computer's memory to the hard disk (overwriting the old version on the hard disk).  Compare to: ROM.


To view or hear something in real-time means to see or hear it immediately and without any slowdowns. Real-time audio on the Internet, for example, means you do not have to wait for an entire audio file to download, but can (almost) immediately start listening to the audio as it is coming to you.


Restore means to make a window smaller than full screen, so that it can be resized. See also: Maximize.


To click with the right mouse button rather than the usual left button.


ROM stands for Read Only Memory.  Generally, it refers to computer chips that contain data, but computer compact discs are abbreviated CD-ROM in order to differentiate them from ordinary music CDs.   Compare to: RAM.


You must save anything you create on a computer if you want to be able to access it later.  While you are working on a document, it only exists in the computer's temporary memory (except for the previously saved copy).   When you save the document, it is copied to the hard disk, which is permanent storage.


Select means to highlight data. To select text, for example, hold down the mouse button at the beginning of what you want to select, then move the mouse to the end of what you want to select (and let go of the mouse button). The selected text will now be in inverse (opposite) colors. This is only to show what text is selected, it does not affect the printed document.


If you want to change data in a document, you must first select the data, then do the command. For example, if you want to make some text bold, you must first select the text, then click the bold button. You can not click bold then select the text. Select-then-do may seem backwards, but it is actually easier. Suppose you also wanted the text to be italicized. Since the text is still selected from when you made it bold, all you have to do is click the italics button.


A server is a computer that has information or routing services that is available for other computers to access. The computer requesting access is considered the client computer.

Shut-down command

Before you turn off your computer, you should issue the shut-down command so that any data in memory can be saved to disk. To do this, click the "Start" button on your taskbar, then click shut-down, then click "yes".


See Program.


This is the portion of your screen including the Start button, the time display, and everything in-between. The start button gives you access to the programs installed on your computer, your system settings, a shut down command, and more. Immediately to the right of the start button are buttons for each program you are currently running. You will probably also have little icons to the left of the time display for miscellaneous programs that make the computer work. For example, you most likely have a speaker icon for your sound, maybe an icon for anti-virus software, and others. Try double-clicking any of these to see what they are.

Text Cursor

The text cursor is the location that text will appear as you type it.  It is also called the insertion point.  With modern software, it is usually a blinking vertical line.  It will normally be at the end of the line of text that you are typing, however it could also be placed between two characters of text.  You can press backspace to erase a character to the left of the text cursor, or you can press delete to erase a character to the right of the text cursor.  Do not get the text cursor mixed up with the mouse cursor.  You can not just move the mouse cursor to where you want text, then start to type. You must first click (where you want to change text), then the text cursor will appear.  You can then type or delete text.  Although you can click wherever you want the text cursor to be, you can also move it with the arrow keys, page up, page down, home, and end.

You can practice using the text cursor in the following input box: 


To toggle means to switch on or off. If the item is currently off, then it will be turned on. If it is already on, then it will be turned off. An example of a item that toggles is a checkbox. The first time you click, an X will be placed in the box, the next time the X will be removed.


A toolbar is a collection of buttons, usually organized by category.  Some programs allow you to turn individual toolbars on and off (to display or hide them), and you may even be able to customize the toolbar by changing what buttons are shown (or even add your own buttons).  Often, you can drag a toolbar (by dragging from an edge of the toolbar where there is no button) to move it to a different location on the screen.  If a novice user does this, though, the user may not know what he or she did and may "lose" the toolbar.  Usually, you can turn toolbars on and off by clicking the "view" menu, then choosing "toolbars".


UUENCODE stands for UNIX-to-UNIX encoding. UUENCODE is an older method for attaching 8-bit binary files to text only email messages. Since only alphanumeric characters and a few standard symbols are all that can be used in a text only email (not the full ASCII character set), 8-bit binary data has to be represented with text. Every 2 bytes (a byte is 8 bits) is represented with 3 text characters. This method is not as efficient as MIME.


The Web is one part of the Internet.  The Web consists of web pages that are hosted on server computers.  If you are connected to the Internet, you can view web pages with a web browser program.   See also: Understanding Internet Addresses.

Web Browser

A web browser is a program that you use to view web pages.  The two most popular web browsers are Microsoft Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator.

Web Page

A web page is a rich document that can contain richly formatted text, graphics, animation, sound, and much more.  Some web pages are generated dynamically (such as the results of a search).  You are currently viewing a (static) web page.   Every web page on the Internet has a unique address which starts with the name of the computer that holds that page.  Within a web page, words and pictures can be linked to other pages.  When you activate a link, you will be taken to another page automatically.  See also: Web, Web Browser, Understanding Internet Addresses.


A window is a rectangle portion of the display which is being used for a specific program. Each program has its own window. It is possible to have more than one window on the screen at one time. The word windows with a lower case 'w', refers to more than one window; with an upper case 'W', it refers to Microsoft Windows, the operating system for most personal computers.

window pane

A window pane is simply a rectangular portion of a window.   For example, a window may be divided in half vertically.  In this case, you would have two window panes, one on the left, and the other on the right.

Windows, Microsoft

Microsoft Windows is the name of the program which runs your computer if you use a standard PC. It allows you to run other programs, each in their own window. It also allows you to view and manage the files on your disk drives using icons to represent each item. Windows 98 is currently the latest version of this program.

Windows 95, Microsoft

Microsoft Windows 95 is the operating system in use on most of today's computers. It provides smoother (preemptive) multitasking, support for long filenames, better multimedia, and much more over Windows 3.1. Windows 95 was a big change from Windows 3.1. It does provide backward compatibility with Windows 3.1, though, so older programs will almost always work on this newer version of Windows. However, older programs will not take advantage of newer features (such as long filenames).

Windows 98, Microsoft

Microsoft Windows 98 is the latest version of Microsoft Windows. It adds much improved Internet software, support for TV and DVD, and more. It is also supposed to start itself and other programs faster than Windows 95. It is still backward compatible with Windows 3.1 & DOS.
See also: My article on Windows 98

Windows 3.1

Windows 3.1 is an older version of Microsoft Windows. A great deal of software that was designed for this older version of Windows still exists, but should be avoided.  Programs designed for Windows 3.1 will usually work in newer versions of Windows.  However, you will not get modern functionality such as long filenames (you will be limited to 8 characters), fast 32-bit printing, plug-n-play hardware support, and other good stuff.


WYSIWYG stands for What You See Is What You Get. It is pronounced "wizzy-wig". It means that what you see on your screen while you edit your file, looks the same as what you get when you print the file. Some older word processors were not WYSIWYG, and formatting (such as bold or underline) would show up on-screen as strange codes (but look fine when printed). Today, ordinary word processors are almost always WYSIWYG, however some programs for creating web pages are not yet WYSIWYG. This kind of web page software would show the formatting codes as you see in the example below:

This is unimportant. <bold>But this is important.</bold><a href="../">And this is a link.</a>

However, with WYSIWYG software, the above line would look like this:

This is unimportant. But this is important. And this is a link.


The Year 2000 Problem (Y2K)

The Y2K bug is a very common and very serious glitch where computer hardware or software that process data that includes dates will not properly understand dates in the year 2000 and beyond.  This is because the systems only store the last two digits of a date, and when year 2000 rolls around, these systems will think the year is 1900.  See my articles: Update on the Year 2000 Problem  and   The Year 2000 Problem.


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