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Glossary of Internet Terms


The Internet is full of jargon and acronyms. Listed here are explanations of commonly used Internet terminology, together with a few general computer acronyms.


  • ActiveX A plug-in extra for your web browser, allowing advanced web site features to be viewed. Similar to Java.
  • ADSL Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber Line - a high speed connection to the Internet
  • ANSI A text standard similar, but not quite the same as, ASCII.
  • Applet  A mini-programme to run on a computer, usually written in Java and downloaded and run automatically when you view a web page.
  • ASCII A plain and basic form of text file.
  • ATAPI Advanced Technology Attachment Packet Interface. A standard for connecting a CD-ROM drive to an Enhanced IDE adapter.
  • Avatar A pseudonym used when participating in on-line chat rooms etc. Many men hide behind the identity of a gorgeous woman.
  • Bandwidth Measure of the capacity of a data transmission line. Usually calculated monthly.
  • Bash Linux command-line interface.
  • Baud Measure of the speed of data transmission, frequently used in reference to modems. Roughly equal to bits per second (bps).
  • BIOS Basic Input/Output System. The base-level information in your PC that is referred to during the start-up procedure.
  • Bit Binary digit. A minute piece of data information.
  • Bot Robot - an automated internet operation to obtain information. See robot for more detail.
  • bps Bits per second - a measure of data transmission speed.
  • Browser Software used to view web pages, such as Internet Explorer or Chrome.
  • Bus Internal pathway around the inside of a computer for routing data between components.
  • Byte Eight bits. 1.024 bytes make a kilobyte. 1,048,576 make a megabyte. Interesting, huh?
  • Cache An area of computer memory where information can temporarily be stored. This information is sometimes transferred to disk for later retrieval.
  • CISC Complex Instruction Set Computer. Something to do with chipset architecture.
  • CGI Common Gateway Interface. A web programme that processes information at the Server.
  • COM Component Object Model. Something to do with programming.
  • Cookie A message sent to your browser by a web site's server. The next time you visit that site it will read that information and identify you. Uses for this can range from identifying you (and your account) at an iCommerce site to using the information to target specific advertising at you - if you bought a book about fishing you may find you see adverts for the local chip shop. Some people feel this is an invasion of privacy and set their browsers to refuse cookies.
  • CPU Central Processing Unit. The microprocessor chip that runs your computer.
  • Daemon A Linux process for operating automated activities in the background. In Greek mythology, a daemon is a guardian spirit.
  • Dial-Up Connection to your ISP via a public telephone network.
  • DIMM Dual Inline Memory Module. A tiny circuit board carrying plug-in computer memory.
  • DIP switch Tiny switch, usually grouped with others, on computer equipment or internal cards for adjusting settings. Usually too tiny to set with fingers, a ball point pen is a handy tool.
  • DNS Domain Name System - the mapping of domain names (such as to IP addresses (
  • Domain name Personalised internet addresses used for web pages and email, such as These are effectively aliases for easier use than IP numbers.
  • DOS Disk Operating System. This is the basic operating system of most PCs that (these days) lurks behind Windows and hopes you don't realise it is there.
  • Download The process of transferring a file or files from a web site to your computer.
  • DRAM Dynamic Random Access Memory. A type of memory used in some PCs.
  • DUN Dial-up Networking. Microsoft's name for the procedure used for connecting a PC to the Internet.
  • DVD Digital Versatile Disc - looks like a double-sided CD.
  • E-commerce Electronic Commerce. The marketing and sale of products through the internet. More correctly referred to as I-commerce.
  • EIDE Enhanced IDE
  • Emoticon Another name for a Smiley
  • E-mail Electronic mail, a means of swift communication through the internet.
  • Encryption A means of coding messages transmitted via the internet, which are decodable only by the intended recipient.
  • FAQ Frequently Asked Questions. A summary of popular questions and answers in connection with a given subject.
  • FAT File Allocation Table. The structure of the data on a disk is recorded in this table, so that your computer can find specific items when it needs them.
  • Firewall Hardware or software restricting access to a computer or network from uninvited parties, to prevent unauthorised activity such as hacking.
  • Floppy disk A removable, small capacity, data storage medium.
  • FQDN Fully Qualified Domain Name
  • FTP File Transfer Protocol. The process used to upload or download files. Popularly used to upload web pages to your web host.
  • GNU A free software system compatable with UNIX. GNU stands for Gnu's Not Unix.
  • Gopher A means of locating information on the internet. This method is now little used, now that search engines exist.
  • Hacking The practice of gaining access to the inner workings of a computer or network without authority. The term is generally referred to in connection with malicious activity.
  • Hardware Physical computer equipment, e.g. the monitor or modem.
  • Hard disk A disk (usually inside a computer) for the storage of data.
  • Harvest The practice of collecting information (usually email addresses) from web sites using robots, or harvesters. These email addresses are then used (or even sold on CD-ROM) for spamming purposes.
  • Home Page The first document of a web site, often including an index to other pages or an introduction to the site. The term is sometimes loosely used to refer to personal sites.
  • HTML Hyper Text Markup Language. The language used to write web pages. This is why most web pages are named something.html or something.htm.
  • HTTP Hypertext Transfer Protocol - the standard defined means of formatting and transmitting information across the World Wide Web.
  • Hypertext Text on a web page that links to another page or web site. See link.


  • IAP Internet Access Provider - see ISP
  • ICANN Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers - the organisation that has top authority regarding the format and issue of domain names.
  • I-Commerce Internet Commerce. See E-commerce.
  • IDE Integrated Drive Electronics. A standard to allow PCs to communicate with their hard disks.
  • Internet Interconnected computer network. Effectively a massive version of a company network of computers, accessible via an ISP. Interestingly, there is no central point or master computer on the Internet, it is a non-commercial, self-governing network. The term Internet should not be confused with the World Wide Web.
  • IMAP An email protocol whereby the messages are stored on the server and not the local PC. Popularly used on company networks, but not practical for home dial-up.
  • I/O Port Input/Output Port. A socket (usually at the back of your computer) into which peripherals can be plugged - e.g. printer or modem.
  • IP Internet Protocol. Standard language used across the internet.
  • IP numbers Numbers assigned to each computer on a TCP/IP network. For instance, the IP number for Studio433 is, so if you use the address this will take you to the same place as
  • IRC Internet Relay Chat. A way of communicating with other people across the Internet in real time. 
  • ISDN A fast connection to the internet, using a special (and more expensive) link than dial-up and requiring a special kind of modem.
  • ISA Industry Standard Architecture. Early standard for PCs allowing peripherals to be added with the use of plug-in cards.
  • ISDN Integrated Services Digital Network. A faster, but rather more expensive, connection to the Internet than a conventional telephone line.
  • ISP Internet Service Provider. A company providing Internet access - acting as the middle-man between you and the internet.


  • Java A programming language used mostly on the internet. Its benefits lie in cross-computer compatibility, so it (should) work with a PC, Macintosh or Amiga. Not altogether popular, owing to slowness of operation and the security risk of running unknown software on your computer.
  • JavaScript A scripting method that can be built into web pages to enhance the basic functions of HTML. Not to be confused with Java.
  • JSP Java Server Pages


  • Kernel The basic functions of any operating system.
  • Kbps Kilobits per second. Not to be confused with kilobytes, this is a measure of modem access and download speeds.
  • Kilobyte 1,024 bytes.


  • LILO The programme used to start up Linux - the LInux LOader.
  • Link A means of moving from one web page to another, achieved by clicking the mouse on a specific location on the page. Commonly shown on the page in blue, underlined text.


  • Megabyte 1,048,576 bytes.
  • MIDI Musical Instrument Digital Interface. An industry standard for synthetically produced sound flies - usually ending in .mid
  • MIME Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions. A way of attaching non-text files like graphics to a mail message. MIME tells your email software the type of file being sent and how to do the conversion. MIME works transparently for both the sender and the receiver when both are MIME enabled. 
  • Modem  Modulator/Demodulator. An electronic device which allows computers to communicate with each other over a phone line. Sometimes this is an external box (with lots of flashing lights) but can be built into your computer.


  • Net Abbreviation for Internet.
  • Netiquette Accepted conventions or rules for people that use the internet. These include things like not posting advertisements or binaries in Newsgroups when the FAQ for the Newsgroup says its not allowed, or sending UCE. 
  • Network  A collection of linked computers that allows them to interact.
  • Newsgroups See Usenet.
  • Node Connection from an ISP into the Internet.


  • OLE Sound uttered by Spaniard after visiting your web site. Actually stands for Object Linking and Embedding - a means of displaying files or running small programmes from within other documents.
    On-line Services ISPs providing additional special services accessible only to their members. America Online (AOL) and CompuServe are examples, who also like to be known as Content Providers.


  • Packet A lump of data, typically part of a file, as transmitted over the Internet. On arrival at the destination, the packets are seamlessly re-joined to create the file in original form. Quite amazing how it all works, really.
  • PC Personal Computer. A term specifically used to refer to IBM-compatible computers, although why no others are deemed to be personal is anyone's guess. 
  • PCI Peripheral Component Interconnect. A standard bus design for computer motherboards and expansion slots.
  • PCMCIA A PC Ccrd, allowing expansion of the computer's capabilities with a credit-card sized connection. Popular on portable computers.
  • Perl Practical Extraction and Reporting Language - the most common software used to run CGI scripts. Some say Perl stands for Pathologically Eclectic Rubbish Lister)
  • PHP Personal Home Page Tools - a scripting language for web pages. It is often suggested that PHP stands for PHP Hypertext Processer but this is retrospective wishful thinking rather than fact.
  • Ping Packet Internet Groper. A rather worrying name for a means of testing response times of websites etc.
  • PoP  Point of Presence. A location from which the Internet can be accessed via dial-up.
  • POP3 Post Office Protocol, version 3. A set standard for the receipt of email transmissions, most commonly used with dial-up services.
  • PPP Point to Point Protocol. A standard for connecting direct to the Internet.
  • Proxy Server An additional server plumbed between you and the Internet. This is sometimes for security reasons, so that files can be checked for viruses or filtered for unwanted content. Another use is to store the most commonly accessed web pages at your ISP so that they can be sent to you more quickly than following through the Internet to their source server. A disadvantage of this can be that the page you are looking at might be out of date.


  • Quota The permitted amount of web space for a particular web site.


  • RAM Random Access Memory. Memory for computers to allow temporary storage of data.
  • RISC Reduced Instruction Set Computer. A type of CPU that increases productivity by reducing the number of instructions to the minimum.
  • Robot An automated internet operation to obtain information. A popular use is by search engines, which search web sites and index the information. Also used to harvest email addresses from web pages for spamming purposes.
  • ROM Read Only Memory. Storage are for data that can be read, but not altered. Normal CDs are called CD-ROM because the data on them cannot be replaced or changed, unlike a hard or floppy disk.
  • Router A device which examines incoming packets and directs them to the correct destination. Your ISP would most definitely have a router.
  • RTFM Read The Flippin' Manual! Sarcastic term used by computer techies.


  • SCSI Small Computer System Interface. A fast interface for PCs for hard drives, scanners, etc.
  • Search engine A massive database of information, available across the Internet, to search for web sites which contain particular words or phrases. Examples are Google and Yahoo.
  • Server A computer permanently connected to the internet, that "serves" information on demand. This can be for web sites, email, Usenet etc.
  • Shareware  Software, frequently available freely for download through the internet, that can be used for a trial period before you have to pay for it.
  • SIMM Single Inline Memory Module. A tiny circuit board carrying plug-in computer memory.
  • SLIP Serial Line Interface Protocol. A standard for connecting direct to the Internet.
  • Smileys, or Smiley Faces Faces made up from normal keyboard characters, used to express oneself through email and newsgroups, such as :-) or 8( . Usually need to be visualised at 90º owing to the limitations of the alphabet!
  • SMP Symmetric Multiprocessing - the operation of a computer with more than one CPU.
  • SMTP Simple Mail Transport Protocol. The outgoing server for POP3 email.
  • Snail-mail A term used by email users to refer to conventional postal systems, alluding to the comparative speed of delivery.
  • Software  Programmes to run on computers. As opposed to hardware, these are not physical but exist only in electronic or magnetic form.
  • Spam Unsolicited commercial email (see UCE)
  • Spamming The practice of sending UCE.
  • Spider An automated internet operation to obtain information. See robot for more detail.
  • SQL Structured Query Language - a means of interrogating databases.
  • SSL Secure Sockets Layer. An area of a web site where secure transactions can be made - eg by credit card. It can be identified during use by the https:// prefix to the web address instead of the usual http:// . Most web browsers also show a small key or padlock in the status line, too.
    Developers using Studio433 Virtual Servers can have SSL added to their account if required.
  • Subdomain A separate domain created using an existing domain name - eg


  • TCP/IP Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol. This specifies how data is sent across the Internet.
  • Telnet A terminal emulator. A means of connecting to another computer across the Internet so that commands can be executed as if you were working directly at that computer.
  • TLAs Three Letter Acronyms. Not restricted to the internet by any means, but a whole collection of abbreviated terms have been adopted for use in email and usenet groups, to save typing. They don't all consist of three letters, either.


  • UART Universal Asynchronous Receiver/Transmitter. A chip that controls to movement of data through a serial port.
  • UCE Unsolicited Commercial Email. Advertising and promotional email sent in bulk. Similar to junk mail in the post, but a more sensitive issue as the recipient is often paying for their on-line time whilst downloading unwanted mailings.
  • UNIX An operating system (dating back to 1969) which was one of the first networking systems. Largely superseded by Linux for Internet use.
  • Upload  The process of transferring a file or files from your computer to a web site.
  • URL Unique Resource Locator. The form of Internet address used on the world wide web. Our URL is
  • USB Universal Serial Bus. A socket for connecting peripherals to a PC.
  • Usenet Newsgroups and discussion forums on different subjects. Anyone can join a group to read or contribute to a discussion.
  • Uuencode A means enabling binary files (typically graphics or programs) to be converted to ASCII so that they can be sent by e-mail, and converted back on receipt. Pronounced you-you-encode.


  • VRAM Video Random Access Memory. Special type of DRAM to speed up the rate images are displayed on screen.
  • VRML Virtual Reality Modelling Language. A standard that supposedly allows the real world to be modelled on the Internet. 


  • Web Abbreviation for World Wide Web
  • Web page  One page of a web site, but not necessarily one page in terms of printed paper.
  • Web host Company that provides a place for web sites, accessible to all through the web. 
  • Web server See Server
  • Web site A collection of web pages on a particular subject created by a company or person for viewing across the Internet.
  • Web space A place where a web site can be housed, usually provided by a web host.
  • Winsock Windows Socket. A programme that allows Windows software to connect with the Internet. Since Windows95, this has been built into the operating system.
  • World Wide Web, or WWW The collective name for all the millions of web sites that exist. The World Wide Web is just part of the Internet - examples of other parts are Usenet and Gopher.

    Have we missed something? Let us know and we'll add it.
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Article details
Article ID: 2
Category: General
Date added: 2013-08-27 18:39:17
Views: 1755
Rating (Votes): Article rated 3.4/5.0 (23)

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