Computer Dictionary (kum’pyooting)

  1. n the art of calculating how much time you wasted and money you spent in a doomed attempt to master a machine with a mind of its own


B : b : bi


The main portion of a computer network that is capable of carrying the majority of traffic on the network. The backbone is commonly used to connect large networks or companies together. The first Internet backbone was made between UCLA and SLI on October 29, 1969 and today the Internet consists of dozens of large backbones that carry the majority of traffic throughout the world. In the United States, many of these backbones are run by major telecommunication companies such as: AT&T, Bell South, Congent, Qwest, MCI/Worldcom, Sprint, Time Warner, etc.

Also see: Network definitions, Network neutrality, NSFNET, Router, Trunk

Bad sector

Refers to a flaw and/or defect with the computer hard disk drive. When bad sectors are encountered often this is a good indication that the hard disk drive is failing or is already bad. To the right is an example of what a sector is on the hard disk drive platter, as can be seen the sector is a portion of a single track.
  • Information on what should be done if you get a bad sector can be found on document CH000180.
  • Additional help and information with troubleshooting a hard disk drive can be found on our hard disk drive help page.

Also see: Floppy disk definitions, Hard disk drive definitions, Sector

Picture of hard disk drive sector


When referring to your own connection, bandwidth is the total maximum capacity of your network or modem connection. A MODEMs bandwidth is measured in BPS. The more bandwidth you have, the faster you will be able to receive and/or send information.

If bandwidth is being shared, you will likely not be able to reach the maximum capacity of the bandwidth when other computers, users or other devices are utilizing the same line.
  • Users looking for methods of testing their Internet bandwidth, please see document CH000539.
  • See document CH000637 for additional information about limiting their upload bandwidth.

Also see: BPS, Data transfer, Modem, Network definitions


1. Slang commonly used to describe the exclamation mark. The exclamation mark is the symbol above the "1" key on the standard United States qwerty keyboard and looks like the following symbol: "!".

2. Bang is also used to describe the physical process of hitting an object, commonly the keyboard.

Also see: Keyboard definitions, Whack, Shebang


Referring to memory slots, a bank is the smallest amount of memory that can be addressed by the processor at one time. When installing or upgrading memory, the instructions or documentation may refer to a bank. Below are the general configurations and explanations of banks relating to memory.

When installing memory on a computer with a 486 computer, because the 486 is a 32-bit processor, when installing 30-pin SIMMs, because a 30-PIN SIMM is 8-bits, you must install 4 SIMMs ( 8x4=32 ) at one time for the memory to properly work.

When installing memory on a Pentium computer, because the processor is a 64-bit processor and 72-Pin SIMMs are 32-bit, you would need to install 2 SIMMs ( 2x32=64 ) at one time for the memory to properly work.

Computers that utilize DIMMs, RIMMs or later memory modules have banks that consist of one slot, therefore only require one module per slot.

Also see: Memory definitions


When referring to web advertising a banner is generally an image that is located on one of the margins of the web page. The banner will generally display an image and text to help advertise another web site. The first banner ad was ran by in 1994. Below is an example of a traditional banner ad.

Also see: Advertise

Bar chart

A bar chart is a graphic representation of data. Bar charts display horizontal bars going across the chart horizontally, with the values axis being displayed on the bottom of the chart. Below is an example picture of a bar chart of unique visitors Computer Hope has received between the years of 2000 and 2006. As can be seen in this example this type of chart for this data is not as easy to interpret displaying the most recent year at the top.

Bar chart picture

  • Additional information about creating a bar chart in Excel and Calc can be found on document CH000911.

Also see: Chart


Lines of different widths and sizes representing data that, when read, will determine what the scanned object is. Bar codes are often used to help organize and be able to index information or prices about an object. Another example of how barcodes are used is barcodes used by the US postal service that helps speed the delivery of mail. Below is an example of what a barcode for an address may look like.

Barcode readers and scanners

A barcode reader or scanner also known as a point of sale (POS) scanner are hardware devices capable of reading a barcode and printing out the details of the product and/or logging that product into a database so a company can easily keep track of its inventory

Barcode Printers

A hardware device capable of printing out adhesive barcodes that can be attached to a product. This helps identify the product and/or a company keep track of its inventory.

Barcode companies

Barcodes Inc:
Barcodes Inc. is a company dedicated to barcodes and has a wide variety of barcode products such as barcode readers, barcode printers, labels, and much more.

Barcodes Inc also has an online generator that enables you to create your own barcodes over the Internet and a free downloadable barcode font that can be found at:

Click here to search for other barcode companies

Batch file

Scripting language entered into files with the MS-DOS extension of *.bat that is capable of performing various tasks through DOS. Batch files are often used to help load programs and perform common tasks.
  • Additional information, help and examples can be found on our batch file page.

Also see: Programming definitions

  • Additional information about creating a barcode in Microsoft Word for letters or other purposes can be found on document CH000761.

Also see: Matrix code, RFID, Semacode, UPC

Batch processing

Type of data processing that occurs in a large group instead of individually. For example, often banks will batch process all their transactions at once.

Battery backup

Hardware device used to keep a computer or related peripherals on for short periods of time if the power happens to be low or removed. The battery backup allows the computer to shutdown safely or continue to run if the power is off shortly.

Large battery backups are commonly used for large corporate networks to safely shutdown servers if power is out for a long period of time or keep the servers running if the power happens to be out for a short period of time.

Also see: Battery definitions

B : b : bi


Drive letter description on PC computers. Today, most computers do not include or have a B: drive; if present the B: drive is generally the 5.25-inch disk drive, but can also be the 3.5-inch drive.

Also see: A:, Drive letter, Floppy definitions


  1. Short for bits per second, bps is a measurement of the data transmission speed. bps is an indication of how many bits that pass a certain point in one second. The larger the bps rate the faster the download and/or upload time will be.
  2. Short for bytes per second and also sometimes abbreviated as B/s, Bps is the a speed is measured in bytes received per second. The difference between the two abbreviations is the uppercase and lowercase b.

Also see: Baud, Bit, Byte, Kbps, Measurement, Modem definitions


Short for business-to-business and also known as e-biz, B2B is where businesses deal directly with other businesses instead of business to customer.


Shorthand for before, B4 is often used in text based communications such as chat.

Also see: Chat definitions


Shorthand for Bye for Now, B4N or BFN is commonly used in chat rooms and online games to let users know that they must leave but will likely be back.

Also see: BBIAB, BBL, Chat definitions, CYA, G2G, Game definitions, L8R


  1. Short for Baby AT, Baby-AT is a motherboard form factor. Additional information about motherboards can be found on our motherboard help page.
  2. BAT is also the file extension of a batch file.

    Additional information about computer file extensions can be found on our file extensions page.

Also see: AT, Form factor, Motherboard definitions


A step or procedure that enables a user or company to make a copy of data that can be recovered at a later time if that data is deleted or corrupted at a later time. Depending on how often the data is changed, how important the data is, and how long it takes to backup the information will determine how often the data is backed up. For example, a business that has important data such as customer records that is frequently changed may backup their data every day or in some cases every few hours.

Also see: Archive, Differential backup, Full backup, Incremental backup, Off-line storage

Back link

Link that directs users back to the page they came from. In HTML you can create a back link button for your web page using the below source code.

Entering the above code would give you a button similar to the below example.

Also see: Link


The main portion of a computer network that is capable of carrying the majority of traffic on the network. The backbone is commonly used to connect large networks or companies together. The first Internet backbone was made between UCLA and SLI on October 29, 1969 and today the Internet consists of dozens of large backbones that carry the majority of traffic throughout the world. In the United States, many of these backbones are run by major telecommunication companies such as: AT&T, Bell South, Congent, Qwest, MCI/Worldcom, Sprint, Time Warner, etc.

Also see: Network definitions, Network neutrality, NSFNET, Router, Trunk


A : a : e'i


Entry into an operating system, or connection to a network or the internet, or any other similar function you could have performed if you hadn’t forgotten your password. See PASSWORD.


Code used to acknowledge error-free receipt of transmitted data. Slightly different codes are used to confirm transmission quality but express dissatisfaction with the data itself, including ICK, GAK, UGH, BAH, DOH, and FEH.


A word such as BASIC (Beginner’s All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) that is formed from the initial letters of other words. The word “acronym” is, interestingly enough, itself an acronym stands for A Completely Ridiculous Obsolete Noun You’ll Misspell.

Active matrix

Advanced liquid crystal computer screen that display error messages and system failure warnings with exceptional clarity.


Any product installed in a computer or attached to a program that boosts its failure rate or expands its capacity for malfunction. See UPGRADE.


The specific place in a computer memory where a particular item of data has been lost.

Adventure game

Computer game in which players attempt to follow an incredibly complex path through a series of options. The best-known is 800-MYSTERY, in which callers to a special toll-free number are shunted among dozens of extensions and given bewildering and barely intelligible recorded instructions as they try to obtain technical assistance in loading and operating a completely incomprehensible program. See GAMES

Alert box

A small box that appears on a computer screen to warn you that you are about to do something bad that you didn’t have any intention of doing, either because you have no idea of how to do it or you were only doing it in the first place because a previous alert box told you that if you didn’t do it, something even worse would happen. See CHECK BOX.


A set of instruction that shows how to make it appear that a problem has been solved, transfer responsibility for solving a problem to someone else, or create an entirely new problem.


Command used in word processing that makes data line up horizontally when you want it to line up vertically, and vertically when you want it to line up horizontally.

Alpha testing

The initial phase of testing new software in which highly trained experts on the staff of the manufacturer employ very powerful custom-designed hardware and ingenious temporary fixes to run a specially modified version of the product to find out whether, under absolutely ideal circumstances, the software will perform at approximately one-half its advertised speed or power. See BETA TESTING.


Handy computer control key that make it possible for a single misdirected finger stroke to create a degree of word processing chaos formerly achieved only by leaning on the keyboard with both elbows.

America online

We are sorry, but due to unprecedented reader interest, this extremely amusing definition cannot be accessed at this time.


Unit for measuring an electric current, equal to one coulomb per second. Others units commonly used in the computer industry are the Karloff, which measures the destructive strength of a power surge; the Methuselah, which measures promised battery life; and the Gesundheit, with measures actual battery life. See BATTERY PACK and OHM’S LAW.


Method of representing information in which wrong answer or inaccurate readings are expressed as points on continuous line, rather than as a specific incorrect value. See DIGITAL.


  1. Hypertext tag that provides a link to another document.
  2. possible use for a large and heavy obsolete personal computer.


Pioneering computer company that, in technical terms, clearly built a better mousetrap, but lost out to competitor Microsoft’s more effective long-term strategy of breeding successive generations of worse mice.


Specific task-performing software that can cause blowups, anomalies, and artifacts, as opposed to general operating software, which can cause a system-wide failure. See BOMB, CRASH, DOWN, FAIL-SAFE SYSTEM, FRIED, FROZEN, GLITCH, HUNG.


  1. Term often used to refer to the design of a computer system.
  2. Term never used to refer to the design of any building housing a computer company.

Archival storage

External storage system where unneeded data is always available. See BACKUP COPY.


  1. A value or an option that provides data for a routine. See PARAMETER.
  2. Like hell it is. It’s a value or an option that modifies a command. Don’t See PARAMETER; See SWITCH. Sheesh.


Command that automatically neatens up the columns and rows of document or file icons in graphical operating system by reorganizing them into the most counterintuitive and least logical possible arrangement.

Arrow keys

A set of four keys that move the cursors too far up, too far down, too far left, too far right.

Artificial intelligence

  1. The utilization of computers to simulate human thinking,
  2. Any other simulation of human thinking, such as the thought processes of typical member of the U.S. Congress. See BIONIC.


Technical term for a sound produced by a computer that isn’t immediately followed by sudden darkening of the screen, the ejection of shards of silicon from floppy disk slot, or the smell of something burning.


Capable of failing without outside input.


The replacement of fallible human employee with an unreliable machine.