Acronyms & Terms
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Common Computer Industry Acronym & Terms

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Below we have compiled a list of some common and not so common acronyms and terms that can be an excellent reference guide for you. Please enjoy this page and come back often for updates. As questions come in, we will increase the definitions (or simplify them) as we have time to devote to this project.


A: - Designation for the first floppy disk drive
AA - Auto Answer (modem)
AAUI - Apple AUI (Ethernet AUI connector)
ABI - Application Binary Interface
ABR - Auto Baud Rate detect
AC - Alternating Current
ACK - ACKnowledgement code
ACL - Access Control List
ACM - Association for Computing Machinery
ACS - Asynchronous Communications Server
A/D - Analog to Digital
ADB - Apple Desktop Bus
ADCCP - Advanced Data Communications Control Procedure
ADF. Automatic document feeder is a device that automatically feeds a certain number of pieces of paper into an input device; such as a copy machine, scanner or fax machine. The more pages it supports, the less time you have to spend feeding the machine large documents.
ADP - Automatic Data Processing
ADS - AutoCAD Development System
ADT - Asynchronous Data Transfer
AFE - Apple File Exchange
Advanced Graphics Protocol is the latest type of video card adapter slot on Pentium II and newer motherboards. It has a more direct bus path to the CPU, which is both closer (physically) and wider (64 bit minimum - 128 bit in some cases). In addition, there are now AGP2x, 4x and 8x cards - the higher the number the faster the card. However, the port (on the motherboard) MUST match to optimize performance.
AI - Artificial Intelligence
AIX (Advanced Interactive eXecute)
ALT - Alternate (key on the key board - often a Windows short cut key)
ALU - Arithmetic Logic Unit
AM - Amplitude Modulation
AMI - American Megatrends (BIOS Manufacturer)
ANI - Automatic Number Identification
ANSI - American National Standards Institute (the first graphics standardization protocol - "ANSI graphics" were very popular and common in the DOS world until the launch of Windows, which changed how graphics were dealt with, and eliminated the ANSI limitations).
AOL - America Online
APCUG - Association of Personal Computer User Groups
API - Application Program Interface (internal machine controls - by software which is usually loaded in memory through either the start menu or registry).
APM - Advanced Power Management (be careful here - this is not only built into the BIOS, but also into the Windows operating system, AND many components (such as monitors, printers, and even some drives)).
Applications. A primary software program, which information (whether text or graphics) is created, formatted, or otherwise controlled within.
ARC - Compression Program
ARCNET Attached Resource Computer NETwork
ARP - Address Resolution Protocol
ARPA - Advanced Research Projects Agency
ARQ - Automatic Repeat Request
AS - Application System (IBM)
AS/400 - Application System/400 (IBM) (A specific type of computer)
ASCII - American Standard Code for Information Interchange (most common DOS character set - A-Z, 0-9, and common punctuation marks... and some "high-bit" line graphics & symbols)
ASIC - Application Specific Integrated Circuit
ASM - Association for Systems Management
ASP - Association of Shareware Professionals (very powerful organization until about 1996)
ASPI. Advanced SCSI programming interface handles communication between a SCSI host adapter and the device's driver software. SCSI technology lets a variety of devices share the same host adapter, and the ASPI Manager logically manages the information so it doesn't get mixed up in your computer.
AT - Advanced Technology (IBM)(Type of power supply interface - manual)
ATM - Asynchronous Transfer Mode
AT&T - American Telephone and Telegraph
- Advanced Technology eXchange (Type of power supply interface - electronic)
A/UX - Apple UNIX
AUX - Auxilary
AUP - Acceptable Use Policy
AWARD - (BIOS Manufacturer)
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B: - Designation for the second floppy drive (ONLY if one exists)
B1 - System security level required by the DoD (Department of Defense)
BAK - (extension) - BAcKup files
BASIC - Beginners All purpose Symbolic Instruction Code
.BAT (extension) - Batch File
BBS - Bulletin Board Service
BCD - Binary Coded Decimal
BFT - Binary File Transfer
BIFF - Binary Interchange File Format
BIPS - Billion Instructions Per Second
BISDN - Broadband ISDN
BIOS - Basic Input/Output System (exists on EVERY Motherboard)
BMP - Bit MaP (Type of graphic image format)
Blu Ray - Sony's proprietary copy protection of DVD Movies. It's a unique format (sometimes with hyperlinks to the internet for new or more information or even games)
BOF - Beginning Of File
Boolean search. A special type of search (or, in technical terms: "query")  in which multiple words can be specifically included or excluded from the search. Common possibilities are: AND, OR, NOT and can often times allow you to search a wide variety of information.
BPS - Bits Per Second
BRI - Basic Rate Interface
BTW - By the Way
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C - High level programming language
C++ - Object-oriented version of C
C2 - Minimum security level for the NCSC
Cache.  This is a very fast type of RAM Memory. There are two types - internal & external. External cache is contained on the motherboard or the outside of a card, while Internal cache is contained in the CPU or the main controller chip. The Cache keeps recently accessed file locations, instructions and even some data readily accessible for accellorated retrieval. This increases the speed of your software by 10 to 1,000% (depending of the type - amount - and how it is used by your system). Today, many systems come with 256K or 512K of secondary cache (External - on the motherboard) some of the faster and more expensive systems come with 1MB of cache on the motherboard. Many CPU's differ in the amount and speed of the intern cache.
CAD - Computer Aided Design 
CAD/CAM - Computer Aided Design/Computer Aided Manufacturing
CADD - Computer Aided Design and Drafting
CAI - Computer Aided Instruction (used on lathes, robotics, etc.)
CAL - Computer Assisted Learning (software driven, this is a teaching style)
CAM - Computer Aided Manufacturing
CASE - Computer Aided Software Engineering
CATV - Cable Television
CB - Citizens Band (radio)
CD - Compact Disk
CDMA - Type of digital protocol for cellular telephones (usually GTE, CellONE, and US Cellular, etc.)
CD-R - CD-Recordable
CD-RAM - Cache DRAM (found on a CD Drive)
CD-ROM - Compact Disk Read Only Memory
CDRW - CD Recordable Write (many times)
CDV - Compressed Digital Video
CENTREX - PBX services provided by local telephone company.
CCI - Common Client Interface
CERN - Council European pour la Recherche nucleaire (French)
CGA - Color/Graphics Adaptor (type of video)
CGI - Common Gateway Interface (commonly used with HTML in data management)
CMOS - Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor (what the BIOS is)
CMYK - Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, blacK (makes 16.7 million color combinations)
COBOL - Common Business Oriented Language (popular in 1950 - 1975, some companies still use it with main frames)
COLD - Computer output to LaserDisk
COM - (COM1, COM2, etc.) - Serial Communications Port
CON - Console (usually the keyboard, adopted from the days of the tele-type)
CONFIG.SYS - DOS configuration file
CPA - Computer Press Association
CPI - Characters Per Inch (used by dot matrix printers, desk top publishing, etc.)
CPU - Central Processing Unit (the brains of the computer)
CREN - Corporation for Research and Educational Networking
CSLIP - Compressed Serial Line Internet Protocol
CU - See You (Common chat abbreviation)
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D: - Drive letter (usually the hard drive #2 or partition #2 or CD Rom Drive - in order)
DARPA - Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
DASD - Direct Access Storage Device
DAT - Digital Audio Tape
DB - Data Base
Db - Decibel (sound related)
DBF - File extension (for a database file)
dBASE - Original database program (started by Ashton-Tate, then Borland)
DBMS - Data Base Management System
DC - Direct Current (from batteries)
D/CAS - Data CASette
DCC - Digital Compact Cassette
DCI - Display Control Interface
DCS - Direct Communications System
DD - Double Density
DEC - Digital Equipment Corporation
DEL - Delete (DOS command)
DES - Data Encryption Standard
DESKPRO - Compaq PC line (1980ish circa)
DG - Data General (brand of computer - primarily used by the government)
DHCP - Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (internet related)
DIP - Dual In-Line Package (either on or off)
DIP switch - Dual In-Line Package switch (usually 2,4,8, or 10 switches per block)
DIR - Directory (DOS command)
DNS - Domain Name System (system that changes the number IP address to the actual domain names and email addresses)
DOC - Document (file type)
DOS - Disk Operating System (originally created by Microsoft for IBM)
DPI. Dots per inch on your monitor. (See Resolution for more information.)
DS/DD - Double Sided/Double Density (5.25" floppy disk type - 360KB max storage)
DTP - Desk Top Publishing
DTR - Data Terminal Ready
DTS - Digital Terminal Ready
DVD. "Digital Versatile Data" this will be the next-generation in CD-ROM technology. Currently there are two different standards which are being worked on as you read this (if they haven't been solved yet). There are single sided, single layered discs, which can hold up to 9.4GB of data... versus 650MB on a traditional CD-ROM. The Industry leaders are working on both multiple layers and double sided discs. The price will drop quickly as the popularity picks up.
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E1 - European equvilent to T1
ECC - Error Correcting Code (programming)
ECMA - European Computer Manufacturers Association
ECP - Enhanced Capabilities Port
EDA - Electronic Design Automation
EDI - Electronic Data Interchange (an inventory - order processing & fulfillment for large companies)
EDO RAM - Extended data out RAM -  An advanced type of readable/writable memory that can easily increase overall system performance up to 10% over regular standard DRAM.  There are many differences in RAM, please refer to the RAM section under Components for more details.
EDP - Electronic Data Processing
EFT - Electronic Funds Transfer
EGA - Enhanced Graphics Adapter (video card & monitor type)
EIDE - Enhanced integrated drive electronics is a type of interface that has become the ipso-facto standard for connected hard drives, tape drives, or CD ROM drives. This type of enhanced drive is inexpensive (compared to SCSI) and EIDE doubles or triples the data transfer speed of older drive interfaces. Plus, it allows the total number of drives a PC can house to four (without SCSI).
EMM - Expanded Memory Manger (EMM386 is a memory manager that was introduced with DOS v4.0)
EMS: - Expanded Memory Specification (related to EMM)
Emulation. This is the ability of one device to "fool" the computer into thinking it is a device of a different type. In hardware, it is most commonly used with lesser known brands of  printers, to perform in the manner of other printers. For example, a Citizen printer may use an Epson LQ510 print driver, a Sharp Laser printer may use an HP III driver... one type of CD-ROM may use the drivers from a different manufacturer, Scanners may use the generic TWAIN driver. In the software world, emulators may allow an IBM to access MAC data, or a MAC system to use IBM compatible programs and data.
EOF - End of File
EPP - Enhanced Parallel Port
EPS - Encapsulated PostScript (type of graphic file format - often used by magazine printers and MACs)
ESC - Escape (key on the keyboard)
ESD - Electronic Software Distribution
ESP - Enhanced Service Provider
.EXE (extension) - Executable File
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FF - Form Feed (button on printers)
FAT - File Allocation Table (DOS and Microsoft file structure) There is a FAT16 and FAT32 - designating the size (and speed)
FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions
FAX - FACSimile
FCC - Federal Communications Commission
FCFS - First Come, First Served
FD - Floppy Disk
FDD - Floppy Disk Drive
Field. A part of a database, or cell in a spreadsheet. Each record is made up of many individual fields, such as First Name, Company Name, etc..
FIF - Fractal Image Format
FIFO - First In, First Out
FM - Frequency Modulation (radio)
Forms. A special "component" a programmer designs to help end-users fill-in the blanks. It is designed to CONTROL input data.
FPU - Floating Point Unit (numeric processor)
FSR - Free System Resource
FTP - File Transfer Protocol
FYI - For Your Information (chat abbreviation)
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GB - Gigabyte
GBPS - Gigabytes Per Second
GDI - Graphis Device Interface
GHz - GigaHertZ
GIF - Graphics Interchange Format (popular graphics format - originated by CompuServe)
GIGO - Garbage In, Garbage Out
GIS - Geographic Information System
GOTO - Command (in basic programming)
GPF - General Protection Fault (never heard of prior to Windows, aka "the blue screen of death")
GPI - Graphical Programming Interface
GPS - Global Positioning System (triangulates off of satellites to give you a longitude and latitude position on earth - often combined with PalmTops, or notebook computers with area maps for both location and directions).
GND - Ground (electrical)
Grayscale. Applies to images. Different than "black & white" in that an image using black dots of varying amounts in a grid pattern to create the illusion of shading. The more dots in the pattern, the better and more realistic an image appears.
GUI - Graphical User Interface (Windows made this acronym popular - MAC created the first GUI environment, with GEM creating the first GUI interface in the DOS world - it just never became popular or widely accepted).
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H&J - Hyphenation and Justification (desktop pulishing)
HD - High Density (related to floppy disks)
HDLC - High Data Link Control
HDTV - High Definition TeleVision (started in Japan in the '80's - just now coming to America)
HDD - Hard Disk Drive
HEX - HEXadecimal (more flexible and nearly infinite expressions, compared to binary language)
HFS - Hierarchical File Structure (what DOS created and Windows enhanced - it is the file in a manila folder, in a hanging folder, in a filing cabinet, in a room, in a building, on a street, in a city, in a county, etc. Basically, it is a "reverse family tree," for storing and organizing files and information.)
HMA - High Memory Area (common to DOS)
HP - Hewlett Packard
HP-UX - Hewlett Packard UNIX
HREF - Hypertext Reference (a command in HTML)
Host adapter SCSI controllers are considered a "host" adapter, because it "hosts" and manages up to seven SCSI devices off the same controller. SCSI-3 controllers can support up to 15 devices.
HSM - Hierachical Storage Management
HTML - HyperText Markup Language
HTTP - HyperText Transfer Protocol
Hz - HertZ
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IAB - Internet Architecture Board
IBM - International Business Machines (the company)
ICON - Graphical representation of an file or program (part of the GUI environment)
ICR - Intelligent Character Recognition (related to bar coding)
IDE - Integrated Drive Electronics
IETF - Internet Engineering Task Force
IMAP - Interactive Mail Access Protocol
IMHO - In My Humble Opinion (chat & BBS code abbreviation)
IMS - Information Management System
InterNIC - Internet Network Information Center
I/O - Input Output
IP - Internet Protocol (number associated with the domain name, the email address, etc. - much like the smith's live at 123 any street - it is a unique numeric address)
IPDS - Intelligent Printer Data Stream
IPI - Intelligent Peripheral Interface
IPX - International Packet EXchange (network protocol - started by companies so multiple people could participate in the same game via a modem - it existed prior to the internet, which some people believe the "I" stands for).
IRC - Internet Relay Chat
IrDA - Infrared Data Association
IRQ - Interrupt ReQuest
IS - Information Systems
ISA - Industry Standard Architecture (16bit - early 286/386 card slot architecture)
ISDN - Integrated Services Digital Network (special type of phone wire connection to the internet)
ISO - International Standards Organization (federal government standards - many different industries)
IT - Information Technology
IVR - Interactive Voice Response
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JPEG - Joint Photographic Experts Group (Graphic format - most common on internet & digital cameras)
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KB - Kilobyte
KBPS - Kilobytes Per Second
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LAN - Local Area Network
LCD - Liquid Crystal Display (notebook displays & flat panels)
LED - Light Emitting Diode
LIFO - Last In First Out
LPT - Parallel port (most common port for printer to attach to)
LQ - Letter Quality (common on dot matrix printers)
LSI - Large Scale Integration
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MAC - MacIntosh (by Apple Computers, Inc.)
MB - Megabyte
MBps - Megabytes Per Second
MCB - Memory Control Block
MCGA - Multi Color Graphics Array
MEGA - Million
MHz-- megahertz refers to the internal clock rate of the CPU (microprocessor). Usually, the higher the number, the faster the chip... the quicker it can process data. For example: 800MHz Pentium III  is faster than a 600MHz Pentium. For more information, please see the Common Misconceptions Section off the main menu.
MIDI - Musical Instrument Digital Interface (hardware - a special port on electric pianos, and many electrical instruments and sound systems. software - a specific file type - related to capturing and/or editing digital sound)
MIME - Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions
MIS - Management Information System
MMX. A feature added to the Intel CPU chip, which contains 57 extra instructions to enhance multimedia and graphics performance, with those programs which are designed to take advantage of them.
MPEG - Moving Picture Experts Group
MPU - Micro Processor Unit
MS - Microsoft Corporation
MS-DOS - MicroSoft Disk Operating System
MSN - MicroSoft Network
MTU - Maximum Transmission Unit
MUD - Multi-User Dimension (users group)
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NAS - Network Application Support
NASI - NetWare Asynchronous System Interface
NetBIOS - Network Basic Input/Output System
NIC - Network Information Center (usually referring to the "Network card" in computers - so they can communicate with each other, share files and peripherals). 
NIS - Network Information Services
NLQ - Near-Letter Quality (printer related - especially dot matrix)
NMS - NetWare Management System
NOC - Network Operations Center (the server)
NOS - Networking Operating System (i.e., NT - or Novell, Linux, etc.)
NTSF - special type of format (of the hard drive) in the NT & Windows 2000 systems - is NOT compatible with the standard FAT or FAT32, although FAT32 can exist as a separate partition on the same hard drive.
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OAI - Open Application Interface
OCR - Optical Character Recognition (what scanners use to convert the picture of the text to actual keyed entries)
OEM - Original Equipment Manufacturer 
OLE - Object Linking and Embedding
OS/2 - An Operating System type by IBM
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P# - Pentium chip (the number designates what level or generation)
PBX - Private Branch eXchange (telephone system)
PC - Personal Computer (the computer)
PCB - Printed Circuit Board
PCMCIA - Personal Computer Memory Card International Association (primarily used on notebook computers)
PDA - Personal Digital Assistant (Palm Top type address books, information managers, etc.)
PEP - Packet Exchange Protocol
PPP - Point-to-Point Protocol (internet related)
PDL - Page Description Language
PDN - Public Data Network
PGA - Pin Grid Array
PIF - Program Information File
PMS - Pantone color Matching System
POP - Post Office Protocol (internet related)
POST - Power On Self Test (built into the BIOS - checking for RAM, drives, keyboard, etc.)
PostScript - type of printer protocol (used primarily by high-end desktop publishing, and 4 color gloss printing)
POTS - Plain Old Telephone Service (usually copper wire)
Prepress. This is the process of setting up the artwork you created for reproduction on a printing press - whether it is paper or silk screen, pre-press work will still need to be done (either by you or the printer you are taking your work to).
PROM - Programmable Read Only Memory
PS - Personal Services - or - PostScript
PS/1 - IBM home computer
PS2 - type of port (keyboard and mouse - usually on IRQ12)
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QIC - Quarter Inch Cartridge (type of tape drive & tape cartridge used for data backup)
Query. A process of selecting or filtering out certain data (from a database or spreadsheet) based on criteria you define. Submitting the query results in a found set of records, assuming records matching the criteria you defined exist. This is very common in contact managers and mailing lists.
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RAD - Rapid Application Development
RAID - Redundant Arrays of Inexpensive Disks (best data integrity & redundant immediate backup system) The different numbers after the word designate the number of physical drives involved - the higher the number the better and more expensive.
RAM. Random Access Memory - refers to the chips that temporarily stores instructions from both your operating system, open applications, and user input while your computer is powered on and data is on the screen (or in the background). See RAM under the components section.
RAS - Remote Access Server
REM - Remarks (programming)
RESOLUTION. The number of dots used to represent an image. This is usually measured in dots per inch (dpi).
RFI - Radio Frequency Interface
RGB - Red, Green, Blue (monitor pixels)
RISC - Reduced Instruction Set Computer (a processor type, created by Steve Jobs. This processor is the brains behind many of the new fast laser printers)
RJ-11 - Modular telephone connector (two or four) - standard telephone jacks & plugs
RJ-45 - Modular telephone connector (eight wires) - 10baseT networking cabling & plugs & jacks
ROM - Read-Only Memory
RTC - Real Time Clock
RTF - Rich Text Format
RXD - Receiving Data
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SCSI. Small computer system interface, a standard that allows up to seven devices (hard disks, tape or CD-ROM drives, scanners) to be connected through a single "host" controller.
SCSI ID. Each SCSI device is in a chain, and must have its own identification number - like a street address, generally from 1 to 7. IDs are usually set by a dial, jumpers, or switches on the individual SCSI device.
SDRAM - Synchronous DRAM is just like the standard EDO RAM but faster and more expensive.
SGML - Standard Generalized Markup Language
SGRAM - Synchronous Graphics RAM
SIMM - Single In Line Memory Module (type of RAM memory)
SLIP - Serial Line Internet Protocol
SPA - Software Publishers Association
SMTP - Simple Mail Transport Protocol
SPI - Service Provider Interface
SQL - Structured Query Language
SS/DD - Single Sided, Double Density
SSD - Solid State Drive
STP - Shielded Twisted Pair (type of cable - for telephone line & network cabling)
SVGA - Super Video Graphics Array (800x600 - see video cards)
SYS - (extension) System File
SYSOP - Systems OPerator (the person running a BBS or ISP - dealing with both the hardware & software, unlike the "web master," whom only deals with the domain(s).)
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T1 - High Speed Telephone Line (1.5MB per second max transfer rate)
T3 - High Speed Telephone Line (45MB per second max transfer rate)
TCP/IP - Transport Control Protocol/Interface Protocol (required to connect to the internet - it is a networking protocol)
TDMA - Time Division Multiple Access (A digital cellular protocol - most commonly used by AT&T)
TI - Texas Instruments
TIF or TIFF - Tagged Image File Format (type of graphics file format - high resolution & quality)
TPS - Transactions Per Second
TRS - Tandy Radio Shack (one of the first mass produced computers in the early '80's)
TTYL - Talk To You Later
TSR - Terminate and Stay Resident
TXT - Text (generally ASCII file format)
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UART - Universal Asynchronous Receiver/Transmitter
UMA - Upper Memory Area
UMB - Upper Memory Block
UPC - Universal Product Code
UPS - Uninterruptable Power Supply
USB. Universal serial bus, a new type of expansion port which will eventually replace the serial ports on your computer. USB opens up a lot of possibilities (for the few devices that will currently work on them). It allows up to 63 devices on ONE port, chained - liked the SCSI, but without all the hassles.
URL - Universal Resource Locator (associated with the IP numeric address over the Internet)
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VAD - Value Added Dealer
VAR - Value Added Reseller
VAR - Value Added Retailer
VAX - Virtual Address eXtension
VBA - Visual Basic for Applications
VDT - Video Display Terminal
VESA - Video Electronics Standards Association
VGA - Video Graphics Array (640x480 - see video display adapters)
VHD - Very High Density VHF - Very High Frequency
VMS - Virtual Memory System
VMTP - Virtual Message Transaction Protocol
VPS - Vectors Per Second
VR - Virtual Realtiy
VRML - Virtual Reality Markup Language (similar to HTML & XGML)
VSAM - Virtual Storage Access Method VT - Virtual display Terminal
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WAIS - Wide Area Information Server
WAN - Wide Area Network
WAV - (extension) Audio File
WWW - World Wide Web
WIN - Windows Operating System - from Win286 through Windows 10, including WinNT (all by Microsoft)
WIN.INI - WINdows INItialization
WP - Word Processing
WYSIWYG - What You See Is What You Get
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XGA - EXtended Graphics Array (1024x768 - see video display adapters)
XGML - Text manipulation scripting (similar to HTML & VMRL)
XIP - Execute In Place
Xmodem - File transfer protocol (fast and common BBS file transfer protocol - not as good as zmodem (below), but was more common and one of the first transfer protocols)
XMS - eXtended Memory Specification
XT - EXtended Technology (IBM) - Was the name of the first 8-bit computer system, and allowed the addition of a hard drive... this was a $10,000 power house in 1980 (with 256KB RAM, a 360KB Floppy drive, a 10MB hard drive, and a green monochrome monitor). Cloners helped to quickly reduce the prices.
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Ymodem - File transfer protocol (old school dial up modems, wasn't as fast as zmodem)
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Zmodem - File transfer protocol ((old school dial up modems - the only protocol that allowed you to start where you left off in the event of a disconnection. It was very popular in the BBS world, before the www Internet)

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This site was last updated on 03/31/06