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Glossary of Internet Terms/Acronyms

This collection of terms is intended to clarify some of the information you will find on the Internet. This Glossary can help you understand the issues by clueing you in on the sometimes obscure language of the Internet.

Click on a button below to skip to that part of the Glossary.




This Microsoft-developed independent program is designed to provide multimedia effects and interactive content for the World Wide Web. It uses modules that work together in a Windows environment. These modules are referred to either as ActiveX objects, ActiveX controls, or ActiveX components, and range from single buttons to large programs. Often thought of as a competitor of Sun's Java.

Name of the alternative set of newsgroups. There are more alt. newsgroups than any other set because Usenet was set up so anyone could create an alt. group. The result has been thousands of groups, many of them bizarre.

An anchor is the destination for a link within the same Web page rather than on a different page or different Web site. The links within this glossary that cross-reference the words are done with anchors.

Anonymous FTP
See FTP. Method of logging into an Internet site with the account name "anonymous" to retrieve files that are available to the public.

Anonymous re-mailer
A server which will take an e-mail message, replace the sender's address with its own address, and then send the message to the intended recipient. Using one of these servers, you can send anonymous e-mail. This type of service is intended for use in sensitive situations, such as protesting against governments or providing information to authorities in situations where it could be dangerous for the sender's identity to be known.

Animated GIF
An animated GIF is one of the simplest forms of Web page animation. Most banners you see on Web pages are animated GIFs. The GIF89a format of saving graphics allows you to save several images at once and are displayed by Web browsers one after another, creating the illusion of movement. There are freeware and shareware animated GIF builders available for download.

Derived from the diminutive of "application," this small Java program is often embedded in HTML pages. In contrast to full-fledged Java applications, applets are denied access to many local computer resources.

Another way to say computer program, sometimes truncated informally to "app."

A software tool for finding files stored on anonymous FTP sites. Archie cannot search by program name (such as Microsoft Word 97,) only by file name (such as mword97.exe or whatever the Microsoft Word 97 file might be.) You will need to know the exact filename or a sub-string within it in order to obtain accurate results with an Archie client.

A message posted to a newsgroup.

Acronym for American Standard Code for Information Interchange. This is the de facto world-wide standard for the code numbers used by computers to represent all the upper- and lower-case Latin letters, numbers, punctuation, etc. There are 128 standard ASCII codes, each of which can be represented by a 7 digit binary number: 0000000 through 1111111.

A file that is sent with an e-mail or news message, but which is not part of the e-mail text itself. Attachments are used when sending files of any kind through e-mail or news.

Attachments are files which are attached to an outgoing e-mail or news message. These attached files can be programs, pictures, text files, or any type of computer file.

In HTML, attributes are added to some tags to allow extra formatting options. An attribute is included after the command word and before the tag's closing angled bracket. You may use more than one attribute for one tag.


A high-speed line or series of connections that forms a major pathway within a network. The term is relative, as a backbone in  a small network, such as an office, will likely be much smaller than many non-backbone lines in a large network, such as the Internet.

One of the major problems on the Net; everyone wants more bandwidth. Bandwidth is the carrying capacity of any communications technology, the amount of information (usually measured in bits-per-second) that can be sent through the Internet (or other network) connection. (Bandwidth Chart)

An outdated term for the speed of a data transmission. Baud is the number of changes in an electronic state each second. Bits-per-second (bps) is a more accurate term regarding data transmission because electronic state changes can involve more than one bit of data.

Acronym for Bulletin Board System- a computerized meeting and announcement system that allows people to carry on discussions, upload and download files, and make announcements without the people being connected to the computer at the same time. There are many thousands of BBSs around the world. Most are very small, running on a single computer with one or two phone lines. The term "BBS" is usually used in reference to a small, hobbyist sort of enterprise even though all on-line providers could really be called BBSs, although some on a much larger scale.

A beta is an early release of a product, such as software, to a limited group of people (usually called beta testers) in order to perfect the product. While the product is "in beta," the "beta testers" report any "bugs" they find.

An acronym for "blind carbon copy." You will find a Bcc: field when you are creating an e-mail message. If you enter an e-mail address into this field, the message will be sent to that address, but it will not appear in the headers of the e-mail. For example, if you wrote a poem and are sending it to several people, one of who is the President of Nicaragua, you might not want to reveal the President of Nicaragua's personal e-mail address to everybody who will receive the poem. You could put the President's e-mail address into the Bcc: field, and no one else who receives the message will see that address.

A common Mac file extension. Files ending in ".bin" have been encoded in MacBinary format.

Abbreviation for BINary HEXadecimal conversion- a method for converting non-text files (non-ASCII) into ASCII. This was needed in the past because Internet e-mail could only handle ASCII. BinHex conversion was first used on Macintosh computers and is still the preferred conversion technique for Macs.

With the latest technology in e-mail clients and web browsers, the need for BinHex has diminished, but it's still a good idea to BinHex a binary file when sending it as an attachment through e-mail to be sure that it doesn't become corrupted en-route.

If you decide to BinHex a file you are sending through e-mail, you should include that fact in the e-mail text so that the recipient knows how to decipher the file.

This is actually an acronym for Binary Digit- a single digit number in base-2. In other words, either a one or a zero. The smallest unit of computerized data. Bandwidth is usually measured in bits-per-second.

Acronym for Because It's Time Network- a network of educational sites separate from the Internet, although e-mail is freely exchanged between BITNET and the Internet. Listservs, one of the most popular form of e-mail based discussion groups, originated on BITNET. BITNET machines are IBM VMS machines, and the network is probably the only international network that is shrinking.

Name of the business-related set of newsgroups.

To "boot" is to start a computer; usually the process is called rebooting. Often, after you install some new software on your computer, you are asked to "reboot," i.e. shut down and restart your computer.

A bookmark is a term most often used in Netscape Navigator. It refers to a saved address of a particular web page stored for easy access within Netscape Navigator. If you are surfing the web and come across a web page that you are particularly interested in, but don't have time to investigate at the moment, you can save the address as a bookmark and return to it later. Bookmarks are nearly identical to Favorites in Internet Explorer. Same idea, different term. It's important to note that a bookmark is the address, or URL, of a web page, not the page itself.

Bits per second. Measurement of the amount of computer data (bits) transmitted in one second. Most people use 28.8Kbps modems which transmit 28,000 bits per second. The fastest modems commonly used today are 56Kbps.

Broken links
Consistently rated as one of the most annoying aspects of the Web, broken links are hyperlinks that, when clicked on, do NOT take users where they were supposed to go. Often, they lead to dead-end messages which say the requested page could not be found. This could happen because the site shut down permanently or temporarily, because the site has moved to a new URL, or because the HTML of the link was faulty. There are many link validators, like NetMechanic, that will check your site for broken links.

Also called a Web browser. Software for viewing Web pages. Firefox and Google Chrome are the two most popular browsers.

Short for "by the way." Used in online forums, chats, and email messages.

A bug is any programming glitch, mistake, or problem that interferes with smooth operation of a program or the computer system as a whole. Some bugs lead to incorrect results; others to poor performance; others to system crashes. Software is often "in beta" until all the bugs are worked out.

A set of bits that represent a single character. Usually there are 8 or 10 bits in a byte, depending on how the measurement is being made.


Files or data stored temporarily on your hard disk for quick access. Your web browser stores recently viewed web pages in a cache, so that if you wish to view them again it doesn't have to go out on the Internet and download them again. The Internet Explorer web browser refers to its cache as the Temporary Internet Files.

An acronym for "carbon copy." Using the Cc: field you can send a copy of a message to someone who isn't the primary recipient. For example, if you are sending a message to the Governor complaining about the smell of a nearby landfill, you may want to Cc: a local environmental group so that they are informed of your complaint, who you sent it to, and what it was about.

A software program that is used to contact and obtain data from a server software program on another computer, often across a great distance. Each client program is designed to work with one or more specific kinds of server programs, and each server requires a specific kind of client. For example, a web browser is a client which retrieves information from web servers, ftp servers, and gopher servers.

A short string of text characters saved on your hard drive by your web browser at the request of a web server. The string of text characters can be any series of ASCII characters the web server wishes to put into the cookie. The text of the cookie is used to store various kinds of information that the web server can use to customize a web page with your preferences.

A term originated by author William Gibson in his novel Neuromancer, the word cyberspace is used to describe the entire range of information services available through computer networking. However, its real import is in reference to the vague sense of place one feels when using the Internet. When you view a web page, you are often greeted with a "Welcome!"- a reference to place. On the Internet, viewing a web page is often described as "going to" that web page. The idea that the Internet is more than just a gigantic network but is in fact a new dimension through which we can travel is the true meaning of "cyberspace."


Acronym for Direct Client to Client connection. This is a direct connection between two computers during an IRC session that bypasses the server. This is useful when an IRC server is experiencing problems or you wish to send a file directly to another person. There are several types of DCC, including DCC Send (sending a file to another user) and DCC Chat (talking privately to another user.)

Domain name
The unique name that identifies an Internet site. Domain names always have two or more parts, separated by dots. The part on the left is the most specific, and the part on the right is the most general. A given machine may have more than one domain name but a given domain name points to only one machine. Usually, all of the machines on a given network will have the same thing as the right-hand portion of their domain names, some examples:



It is also possible for a domain name to exist but not be connected to an actual machine. This is often done so that a group or business can have an Internet e-mail address without having to establish a real Internet site. In these cases, some real Internet machine must handle the mail on behalf of the listed domain name. (Domain Name Registration)

The process of transferring data from one computer to another. For most users of the Internet, this involves using an FTP program or web browser to connect to a server and retrieve a file.

Usage: "I downloaded Mutant Super Wackos last night, it looked really cool. Too bad it had a virus and completely hosed my system."


Abbreviation for electronic mail: messages, usually text, sent from one person to another via computer. E-mail can also be sent automatically to a large number of addresses (a mailing list.)

E-mail Headers
Address information stored at the beginning of an e-mail that shows where the e-mail originated, it's destination, each computer it went through to get there, as well as other information about the e-mail.

A very common method of networking computers in a LAN (Local Area Network.) Ethernet will handle about 10,000,000 bits-per-second and can be used with almost any kind of computer.


Acronym for Frequently Asked Questions. FAQs are documents that list and answer the most common questions on a particular subject. There are hundreds (thousands?) of FAQs on subjects as diverse as Pet Grooming and Cryptography. FAQs are usually written by people who are tired of answering the same question over and over, or are trying to speed up the education process for new users.

Acronym for Fiber Distributed Data Interface. A standard for transmitting data on optical fiber cables at a rate of around 100,000,000 bits-per-second (10 times as fast as Ethernet, about twice as fast as T-3)

An Internet software tool for locating people on other Internet sites. Finger is also sometimes used to give access to non-personal information, but the most common use is to see if a person has an account at a particular Internet site. There are some sites that do not allow incoming finger requests, and many users do not have information available for finger clients to see.

Acronym for File Transfer Protocol- a very common method of moving files between two Internet sites. FTP is a special way to login to another Internet site for the purposes of retrieving and/or sending files. There are many Internet sites that have established publicly accessible repositories of material that can be obtained using FTP, by logging in using the account name "anonymous" and your e-mail address as the password. These sites are called "anonymous ftp servers"


The technical meaning is a hardware or software set-up that translates between two dissimilar protocols. For example, Prodigy (an on-line service) has a gateway that translates between its internal, proprietary e-mail format and Internet e-mail format. Another, sloppier, meaning of gateway is any mechanism for providing access to another system. For example, AOL might be called a gateway to the Internet.

A highly successful method of making menus of material available over the Internet. Gopher is a client-and-server style program, which requires that the user have a gopher client program. Although gopher spread rapidly across the globe in only a couple of years, it has been largely supplanted by hypertext, which is used by the World Wide Web. There are still many gopher servers on the Internet, which can be accessed using any web browser. In most cases, you will simply stumble upon a gopher server as you surf the WWW.


The initial exchange of information between two modems upon contact. During the handshake, the two sides agree upon a protocol and other rules (such as how fast they are going to transfer information) to govern the transfer of information back and forth between them. Without a handshake, the connection will not be successfully created.

Headers are the odd looking techno-babble listed at the top of the e-mail messages that you receive. These headers provide information on who sent the message, how it was sent, and what machines it passed through on it's way to you. This information is very useful when trying to track down the sender of a message.

Home Page
A home page often refers to the central page of a web site where all other sub pages can be reached. It can also refer to an individual's personal web page. An example would be that if you go to RJT Design Studio's home page ( you can find links to all other areas of the RJT Design web site.

Slang term for really messing something up. Destroyed beyond recovery.

"Don't install Vaporware 6.0 dude, it will thoroughly hose your system."

Also used in the past tense:

"I installed Vaporware 6.0 and it completely hosed my system. I had to format the drive and reinstall my OS!"
"Bummer dude!"

Any computer on a network that is a repository for services available to other computers on the network. It is quite common to have one host machine provide several services, such as WWW and FTP. (Internet Hosting Plans)

Acronym for HyperText Markup Language, the coding language used to create hypertext documents for use on the World Wide Web. HTML looks a lot like old-fashioned typesetting code, where you surround a block of text with codes that indicate how it should appear. Additionally, in HTML you can specify that a block of text, or a word, is "linked" to another file on the Internet. HTML can be written and read on any computer platform. It can be written in specialized applications designed just for writing HTML, or it can be written in any simple text editing program. HTML files are meant to be viewed using a World Wide Web client program, such as Netscape.

Acronym for HyperText Transport Protocol- the protocol for moving hypertext files across the Internet. It requires an HTTP client program on one end (a web browser), and an HTTP server program (a web server) on the other end. HTTP is the most important protocol used on the World Wide Web (WWW.)

Hyperlink, or Link
A logical link between two related pieces of information in cyberspace. It allows a browsing user the ability to rapidly jump from idea to idea (file to file, place to place) in a non-linear motion. It is at the core of hypertext technology, and closely mimics the way humans think. A link is also a literal part of a web page that allows you to jump to other web addresses by clicking on either text or images. The piece of text or image that executes this jump is referred to as the link. It creates a "link" between the two web addresses.

Generally, any text that contains "links" to other documents - words or phrases in the document that can be chosen by a reader and which cause another document to be retrieved and displayed.


Acronym slang for "In My Humble Opinion". Commonly used in e-mail and other forms of person-to-person communication on the Internet, there are many such abbreviations for slang terms. Such abbreviations are easy to overuse, IMHO.

Initialization string
A string of characters which, when sent to your modem, will enable or disable various functions and features of the modem. Modems come with a standard initialization string from the factory, but it is sometimes necessary to alter that initialization string in order to get the best (fastest, most stable) connection, or sometimes to connect at all. "Initialization string" is often shortened to "init string" when used in conversation.

When used as a capitalized term, Internet means the vast collection of inter-connected networks that all use the TCP/IP protocols and evolved from the ARPANET of the late 60s and early 70s. The Internet now connects over 100,000 independent networks into a vast global network.

Acronym for Internet Protocol- the Internet standard protocol that provides a common layer over dissimilar networks, used to move packets of information among host computers and through gateways.

IP address
The numeric address of a computer connected to the Internet; also called Internet address. IP addresses are closely associated with domain names, in that each domain name translates into an IP address.

IP number
The IP number is also called the IP address, and is a unique number consisting of four parts separated by dots; for example, This can either be a predetermined number (static) or a different one can be assigned each time you log in (dynamic.) Every machine that is on the Internet has a unique IP number. Most machines also have one or more domain names that are easier for people to remember. You may sometimes hear the IP number called a "dotted quad."

Acronym for Internet Relay Chat. IRC is basically a huge multi-user live chat facility. There are a number of major IRC servers around the world which are linked to each other. Anyone can create a "channel" and anything that anyone types in a given channel is seen by all others in the channel. There are many other ways to chat with people using IRC, including private chats, channels with passwords, and client-to-client direct chats. IRC is also frequently used to transfer other kinds of files between people, such as pictures and sound files.

Acronym for Integrated Services Digital Network. ISDN is one method of moving more data over existing telephone lines. ISDN involves installing a separate type of phone line which is completely digital. This method of connection is usually more expensive than typical modem connections, but it can provide speeds of up to 128,000 bits-per-second. To connect using ISDN, you must have an ISDN device, which is called a "terminal adapter."


Java is a cross platform programming language that will work on most operating system. This means that a program written in Java can run on Windows, Macintosh, Unix, or any other Java compliant system.


One thousand bytes. Actually, a kilobyte is usually 1024 (2 to the 10th power) bytes.


Acronym for Local Area Network- a computer network limited to the immediate area, usually the same building or floor of the building.

A reference within one piece of information to another piece of information (sound file, picture, text file, movie, etc.) Instead of simply referring to the document by name, links are used within hypertext to retrieve the referred information when selected. For example, a picture of Elvis may be a link to a sound file of "Don't Be Cruel." When you click on the picture, your web browser could retrieve the sound file and play it. This is an example of a link to the RJT Design Studio home page.

One of the most common kinds of mailing list, listservs originated on BITNET but are now common on the Internet as well.

Often used in reference to the process of retrieving information, or the process of starting an application on a computer. For example, "It took almost four minutes to load that full-size color satellite image of Redmond, WA last night."

Login, Log in
The account name used to gain access to a computer system, or the act of entering into a computer system.

Usage, verb: "Log in to GMail and check your e-mail."

Usage, noun: "What's your login name?"

Short for "laughs out loud." Used in online forums, chats, and email messages.


Mailing list
A (usually automated) system that allows people to send e-mail to one address, whereupon their message is copied and sent to all of the other subscribers to the mailing list. In this way, people who have many different kinds of e-mail access can participate in discussions together.

Often abbreviated MB, a megabyte is roughly one million bytes (one thousand kilobytes.)

Acronym for Multi-purpose Internet Mail Extensions. An internet standard for transferring non-textual data, such as audio or pictures, via e-mail.

Abbreviation for MOdulator, DEModulator- a device that you connect to your computer and to a phone line, that allows the computer to talk to other computers through the phone system. Basically, modems do for computers what a telephone does for humans.

The first WWW browser that was available for the Macintosh, Windows and UNIX, that had the same interface for all operating systems. "Mosaic" really kick-started the popularity of the Web. The source-code to Mosaic has been licensed by several companies and there are several other pieces of software as good or better than Mosaic.

Acronym for Multi-User Dungeon or Dimension- a (usually text-based) multi-user simulation environment. Some are purely for fun and flirting, others are used for serious software development, or educational purposes. A significant feature of most MUDs is that users can create things that stay after they leave and which other users can interact with in their absence, thus allowing a "world" to be built gradually and collectively.

Acronym for Multi-User Simulation Environment. A type of MUD which usually involves little or no violence.


Any time you connect two or more computers together so that they can share resources you have a computer network. Connect two or more networks together and you have an inter, or intranet.

The name for discussion groups on Usenet.

A software program used to read and write articles posted on Usenet. See also: Usenet

NIC or InterNIC - Network Information Center
Generally, any office that handles information for a network. The most famous of these on the Internet is the InterNIC, which is the consortium responsible for registering domain names.

Any single computer connected to a network.


Operating system
The software that forms the foundation of a computer system's usability. This is what you see when the computer starts up. It allows you to open and close programs and move things around. All other programs (word processors, games, spreadsheets, etc.) run in the operating system. Windows, Macintosh OS, Unix, Linux, OS/2, and BeOS are all examples of operating systems. Operating system is frequently shortened to "OS".


Packet switching
The method used to move data around on the Internet. In packet switching, all the data coming out of a machine is broken up into chunks. Each chunk has the address from where it came and to where it is going. This enables chunks of data from many different sources to commingle on the same lines, and be sorted and directed to different routes by special machines (called routers) along the way. In this way, many people can use the same lines at the same time. I

A code used to gain access to a locked system. Good passwords contain letters and non-letters and are not simple combinations such as virtue7. A good password might be: Hot$l-6.

The route through a directory structure to a particular file or directory. Different operating systems have different conventions for describing paths. For example, the path to a picture of your dog may be "C:\windows\desktop\pics\pooch.gif" in Windows, but if the same file existed on a Unix (another operating system) computer, the path might be "/home/luvmuffin/pics/pooch.gif"

An open source scripting language that is commonly used for web development and can be embedded into HTML. PHP code is executed on the server, and the result is returned to the browser as plain HTML (PHP Programming)

POP Server
POP stands for Post Office Protocol. When someone sends you an e-mail, it is sent to the POP server of your ISP or hosting company where it is then stored until you check your mail, at which time it is moved from the POP server to your local computer.

A place where information goes into or out of a computer, or both. For example, the "serial port" on a personal computer is where an external modem would be connected. On the Internet, port often refers to a number that is part of a URL, appearing after a colon (:) right after the domain name. Every service on an Internet server "listens" on a particular port number on that server. Most services have standard port numbers, for example web servers normally listen on port 80. Services can also listen on non-standard ports, in which case the port number must be specified in a URL when accessing the server, so you might see a URL of the form: gopher:// which shows a gopher server running on a non-standard port (the standard gopher port is 70.) Port also refers to translating a piece of software to bring it from one type of computer system to another, in other words to translate a Windows program so that it will run on a Macintosh, or vice versa.

PPP - Point to Point Protocol
A protocol that allows a computer to use a regular telephone line and a modem to make a TCP/IP connection and thus be really and truly on the Internet. PPP has pretty much replaced SLIP- Serial Line Internet Protocol (an older protocol used for the same purpose.)

A mutually determined set of formats and procedures governing the exchange of information between systems. Before you can communicate with someone, you must first be speaking the same language- whether that language is verbal, written, or emotional. Protocols are the languages of the Internet- they are the mechanism that allows so many different types of computer to share information. Each function of the Internet (E-mail, FTP, Usenet, WWW) has its own protocol that must be adhered to for information to be passed along in that format. Under every piece of information you see on the Internet there is a protocol that brought it to you.



Think of a branch on a tree. Stemming from that branch you have other branches, and from those branches more branches. Imagine each branch can have leaves. This is a fairly accurate representation of your file system under Windows and DOS. If I ask you to recursively examine the leaves of branch "X", then you would start at branch X and examine all of its leaves, you would then examine it's "children" branches or sub-branches, until you had visited every branch. Well - the branches are directories, the sub-branches are sub-directories, and the leaves are your files.

Remote access
The ability to access a computer from outside a building in which it is housed. Remote access requires communications hardware, software, and actual physical links, although this can be as simple as common carrier (telephone) lines or as complex as telnet login to another computer across the Internet.

RFC - Request For Comments
The name of the result and the process for creating a standard on the Internet. New standards are proposed and published on-line, as a Request For Comments. The Internet Engineering Task Force is a consensus-building body that facilitates discussion and eventually establishes new standards, but the reference number/name for the standard retains the acronym RFC. For example, the official standard for e-mail is RFC 822.

A special-purpose computer (or software package) that handles the connection between two or more networks. Routers spend all their time looking at the destination addresses of the packets passing through them and deciding which route to send them on.


Acronym for Search Engine Optimization. It is the process of updating and improving your website to increase its ranking in search engines making it more likely to appear for relevant searches. The more often pages of your site appear in search engine results, the more likely you are to gain more visitors to your site and more customers to your business. (SEO Option)

A computer, or a software package, that provides a specific kind of service to client software running on other computers. The term can refer to a particular piece of software, such as a WWW server, or to the machine on which the software is running, e.g. "Our web server just got upgraded, that's why our web page comes up so quickly." A single server machine could have several different server software packages running on it, thus providing many different services to clients on the network.

Microcomputer software, distributed through public domain channels. There is no fee to obtain the software and try it out, but the author expects to receive compensation if you decide to use it. The trial period is usually 30 days, but is arbitrarily set by the author.

SLIP - Serial Line Internet Protocol
A standard protocol for using a regular telephone line (a "serial line") and a modem to connect a computer as a real Internet site. SLIP has been pretty much replaced by PPP- a newer protocol which is more efficient than SLIP.

Acronym for Switched Multimegabit Data Service. Yet another standard for very high-speed data transfer.

Acronym for Simple Mail Transfer Protocol. This is a protocol used on the internet to transfer mail.


A leased-line connection capable of carrying data at 1,544,000 bits-per-second. At maximum theoretical capacity, a T-1 line could move a megabyte of data in less than 10 seconds. That is still not fast enough for full-screen, full-motion video, for which you need at least 10,000,000 bits-per-second. T-1 is used commonly to connect networks to the Internet.

A leased-line connection capable of carrying data at 45,000,000 bits-per-second.

Acronym for Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol- the suite of protocols that defines the Internet. Originally designed for the UNIX operating system, TCP/IP software is now available for every major kind of computer operating system. To be truly on the Internet, your computer must have TCP/IP software.

A command and program used to login from one Internet site to another. The telnet command/program gets you to the login: prompt of another host, which must be running a telnet server.

Terminal emulation
Most communications software packages will permit your personal computer or workstation to communicate with another computer or network as if it were a specific type of terminal directly connected to that computer or network. This is most frequently used to "telnet" from one computer onto another.

A device that allows you to send commands to a computer somewhere else. At a minimum, this usually means a keyboard and a display screen and some simple circuitry. Usually you will use terminal software in a personal computer- the software pretends to be ("emulates") a physical terminal and allows you to type commands to a computer somewhere else.

Terminal server
A special purpose computer that has places to plug in many modems on one side, and a connection to a LAN or host machine on the other side. Thus the terminal server does the work of answering the calls and passes the connections on to the appropriate node. Most terminal servers can provide PPP or SLIP services if connected to the Internet.


A computer operating system (the basic software running on a computer, underneath things like word processors and spreadsheets.) UNIX is designed to be used by many people at the same time (it is a "multi-tasking" operating system) and has TCP/IP built-in. It is the most common operating system for servers on the Internet.

Acronym for Uniform Resource Locator- the standard way to give the address of any resource on the Internet. A URL looks like this: or The most common way to use a URL is to enter it into a web browser, such as Google Chrome or Firefox.

A world-wide system of discussion groups, with comments passed among hundreds of thousands of machines (possibly millions.) Usenet is completely decentralized, with over 27,000 discussion areas, called newsgroups.

Acronym for Unix to Unix Copy- a batch-oriented "store and forward" protocol for sending files, mail, and news between UUCP interconnected computers. UUCP hosts are not connected full time. They typically call up once or several times a day to retrieve mail and news, as well as send any queued local mail. UUCP was very popular before widespread Internet connectivity was common. It still is an inexpensive way to handle mail and news.


v.34 and v.34bis or +
A modem protocol (established during the handshake) that allows modems to communicate at approximately 28,800 bps. V.34bis (v.34+) provides for up to 33,600 bps and is the protocol used at the majority of access numbers.

A term used to describe software that was promised but never delivered, or software that someone thinks is bogus or never going to be delivered.

Acronym (!) for Very Easy Rodent Oriented Net-wide Index to Computerized Archives. Developed at the University of Nevada, Veronica is a constantly updated database of the names of almost every menu item on thousands of gopher servers. The Veronica database can be searched from most major gopher menus.


Acronym for Wide Area Information Servers. A commercial software package that allows the indexing of huge quantities of information, and then making those indices searchable across networks such as the Internet. A prominent feature of WAIS is that the search results are ranked ("scored") according to how relevant the "hits" are, and that subsequent searches can find "more stuff like that last batch" and thus refine the search process.

Acronym for Wide Area Network. Any network that covers an area larger than a single building or college campus.

Web browser
A program used to access files on a web server. Web browsers can also be used to access other types of information on the Internet, such as files on FTP servers and gopher servers. Most web browsers can send and receive e-mail and Usenet news using either built-in e-mail and news programs, or applications that you choose to have the browser use. Firefox and Chrome are examples of web browsers.

Web page
A text or HTML (HyperText Markup Language) document that exists on a web server. (Web Page Design)

Web site
A system of web pages, or other documents, accessible via a web browser. Web sites usually relate to a single organization or group, which creates the content that exists on the web site. Web sites are usually deeper and more involved than simple home pages. (Web Site Design)

A term used by Microsoft for an automated procedure that configures software to use particular information.

Acronym for World Wide Web. First, loosely used: The whole constellation of resources that can be accessed using gopher, FTP, HTTP, telnet, Usenet, WAIS, and some other tools. Second, the universe of hypertext servers (HTTP servers) which are the servers that allow text, graphics, sound files, etc., to be mixed together.





56k line
A digital phone-line connection (leased line) capable of carrying 56,000 bits-per-second. At this speed, a Megabyte will take about 3 minutes to transfer.

A 56k line is not to be confused with a 56k modem connection such as k56flex, x2, or V.90. These are simply the latest protocol used to get more speed out of regular phone lines. Their speeds approach 53,000 bits-per-second, although they are not consistent in that speed.