This glossary is far from complete. We are constantly adding computing terms.
A compact disc - read only memory.
A catalogue of basic, ready-made graphic images which can be pasted into other software applications. Often used in desktop publishing to help create posters, flyers, advertisements etc.
CPU (Central Processing Unit)
The chip which controls the computer. It consists of the ALU (arithmetic and logic unit), the control unit and some memory registers. Also known as the microprocessor or just the processor. Intel is the main manufacturer of CPUs in the world today, with processors such as the Intel Pentium, Celeron, and Dual Core.
Since in reality all a computer can store are series of zeros and ones, representing common things like text takes a little work. The solution is to view the series of zeros and ones instead as a sequence of bytes, and map each one to a particular letter, number, or symbol. The full mapping is called a character set. The most popular character set is commonly referred to as ASCII. The second most popular character set these days is Unicode (and it probably surpass ASCII in popularity these days). Other fairly common character sets include EBCDIC and PETSCII. They are generally quite different from one another; programs exist to convert between them on most platforms, though. Usually EBCDIC is only found on really old machines.
Thin slice of silicon on which an integrated circuit (IC) has been etched. Can be used as a processing unit or for memory.
Complex instruction set computing is one of the two main types of processor design in use today. It is slowly losing popularity to RISC designs; currently all the fastest processors in the world are RISC. The most popular current CISC processor is the x86, but there are also still some 68xx, 65xx, and Z80s in use.
The Common Business Oriented Language is a language developed back in 1959 and still used by some businesses. While it is relatively portable, it is still disliked by many professional programmers simply because COBOL programs tend to be physically longer than equivalent programs written in almost any other language in common use.
A cookie is a small file that a web page on another machine writes to your personal machine's disk to store various bits of information. Most browsers allow the reception of cookies to be disabled or at least selectively disabled, but it should be noted that both Netscape and MSIE have silent cookie reception enabled by default. Sites that maintain shopping carts or remember a reader's last position have legitimate uses for cookies. Sites without such functionality that still spew cookies with distant (or more annoying, non-existent) expiration dates should perhaps be treated with a little caution.
A general purpose machine that automatically inputs and processes data and outputs the results. The actual processing carried out is fixed beforehand, usually by a program stored in the machine.
CSV (Comma Separated Variables)
A CSV file contains data which can easily be transferred into spreadsheets and databases. For example, weather data collected from an electronic weather station is often stored in csv file format. Each item of data is separated from the next by a comma.
Another name for the World Wide Web, including web-pages, internet chat etc.