The Internet - the first global forum, the first global library, and it never closes.


Address: The location of an Internet resource. An email address may take the form of, or A web address looks something like (.net or .org)

Anonymous FTP: An anonymous FTP site allows Internet users to log in and download files from the computer without having a private userid and password. To login, you can typically enter anonymous as the userid (username) and your email address as the password.

Anchor: Either the starting point or destination of a hyperlink.

ASCII: American Standard Code for Information Interchange. There are 128 standard ASCII codes, each of which can be represented by a 7 digit binary number: 0000000 through 1111111. ASCII files are also known as plain text files.

Archie: A system used in searching FTP sites for files.

AU: (.au) - a common audio file format.

AVI: Audio/Video Interleaved - a common video file format (.avi).

BBS (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 IBM clone PC with 1 or 2 phone lines. Some are very large; the line between a BBS and a system like CompuServe gets crossed at some point, but it is not clearly drawn.

Bandwidth: A measurement of the volume of information that can be transmitted over a network at a given time. The higher the bandwidth, the more data can pass over the network.

Baud: In common usage the "baud rate" of a modem is how many bits it can send or receive per second. Technically "baud" is the number of times per second that the carrier signal shifts value -- so a 2400 bit-per-second modem actually runs at 300 baud, but it moves 4 bits per baud (4 x 300 = 2400 bits per second). See also: bit, modem

Binary: The system by which combinations of 0s and 1s are used to represent any type of data stored on a computer.

Bitmap File: A common image format (.bmp) defined by a rectangular pattern of pixels.

BPS: Bits Per Second - a measurement of the volume of data that a modem is capable of transmitting. Typical modem speeds today are 14.4K bps (14,400 bits per second), 28.8K bps or 56.6K bps. ISDN offers transfer rates of 128K bps.

Bookmark: A pointer to a particular Web site. Within browsers, you can bookmark interesting pages so you can return to them easily.

Browser: A program run on a client computer for viewing World Wide Web pages. Examples include Netscape, Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Mosaic.

Cache: A region of memory where frequently accessed data can be stored for rapid access.

CGI: Common Gateway Interface - the specification for how an HTTP server should communicate with server gateway applications.

Chat: A system that allows for online communication between Internet users. See IRC.

Client: A program (like a Web browser) that connects to and requests information from a server.

Cookies: Files stored on your hard drive by your Web browser that hold information about your browsing habits, like what sites you have visited, which newsgroups you have read, etc.

Compressed: Data files available for download from the Internet are typically compacted in order to save server space and reduce transfer times. Typical file extensions for compressed files include .zip, .sit.

Dial-up Connection: A connection to the Internet via phone and modem. Connection types include PPP and SLIP.

Direct Connection: A connection made directly to the Internet - much faster than a dial-up connection.

Discussion Group: A particular section within the USENET system typically, though not always, dedicated to a particular subject of interest. Also known as a newsgroup.

Domain: The Internet is divided into sets known as domains, including .com (business), .gov (government), .edu (educational) and others.

Domain Name: Allows you to reference Internet sites without knowing the true numerical address. Domain names are regulated by a company called InterNIC. 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, e.g.,, and so on. 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.

Download: The process of copying data file(s) from a remote computer to a local computer. The opposite action is upload where a local file is copied to a server.

e-mail: Electronic mail.

Eudora: A popular freeware and commercial email management program.

Exchange: Microsoft's integrated fax and email program designed for Windows 95.

FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions - a collection of common questions and answers on a particular subject.

FreeWare: Software that is available for download and unlimited use without charge. Compare to "Shareware".

FTP: File Transfer Protocol - a set of rules for exchanging files between computers via the Internet.

GIF: Graphics Interchange Format - a common image format. Most images seen on web pages are GIF files.

Gopher: A system allowing users to search for files via menus or directory structures. Uses plain English names and is text based only.

Helper Application: A program allowing you to view multimedia files that your web browser cannot handle internally, such as images, audio and video files. The file must be downloaded before it will be displayed/played. Plug-ins allow you to actually view the file over the Internet without downloading first.

Home Page: The first page of a Web Site. Also, the Web site that automatically loads each time you launch your browser.

Host: The name of a specific machine within a larger domain.

Hot Java: A Web browser developed by Sun Microsystems that takes full advantage of applets written in the Java programming language.

HTML: HyperText Markup Language - a collection of tags typically used in the development of Web pages.

HTTP: HyperText Transfer Protocol - a set of instructions for communication between a server and a World Wide Web client.

Hyperlink: A connection between two anchors. Clicking on one anchor will take you to the linked anchor. Can be within the same document/page or two totally different documents.

Hypertext: A document that contains links to other documents, commonly seen in Web pages and help files.

IRC: Internet Relay Chat - the system allowing Internet users to conduct online text based communication with one or more other users.

ISDN: Integrated Services Digital Network - a system of all digital, high bandwidth telephone lines allowing for the simultaneous delivery of audio, video and data. Data travels at 128K bps.

ISP: Internet Service Provider - the company which provides you with a connection to the Internet via either a Dial-up Connection or a Direct Connection.

IP Address: Internet Protocol Address - every computer on the Internet has a unique identifying number, like

Internet: The worldwide network of computers communicating via an agreed upon set of Internet protocol. An aggregation of high speed networks connected to one another via routers, throughout the world. It uses a standardized protocol called TCP/IP totransfer data from one network to another.

InterNIC: This stands for Inter-Networking Information Center. It is the organization that regulates and authorizes domain names in the UnitedStates.

Java: A programming language, similar to C++, created by Sun Microsystems for developing applets that are capable of running on any computer regardless of the operating system.

JPEG: Joint Photograhic Experts Group - a common image format. Most of the images you see embedded into Web pages are GIFs, but sometimes, especially in art or photographic Web sites, you can click on the image to bring up a higher resolution (larger) JPEG version of the same image.

Killfile: Found within newsreaders, a list of undesirable authors or threads to filter out.

Knowbot: A system for finding Internet user's email addresses via their first and last names. Due to the rapid growth in the volume of email users, this system is not perfect.

LAN: Local Area Network - a network of computers confined within a small area, such as an office building.

Link: Another name for a hyperlink.

Listserv: An electronic mailing list typically used by a broad range of discussion groups. When you subscribe to a listserv, you will receive periodic email messages about the topic you have requested.

Lynx: A popular text (non-graphical) World Wide Web Browser.

Mailing List: A list of email addresses to which messages are sent. You can subscribe to a mailing lists typically by sending an email to the contact address with the following in the body of the message: the word subscribe, the name of the list, and your email address.

Microsoft: The world's largest operating system and application software development company. Products include Windows 95, the MS Office Suite, the MS Internet Explorer.

MIME: Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions, a protocol for allowing email messages to contain various types of media (text, audio, video, images, etc.).

Mirror Site: An Internet site setup as an alternate to a busy site; contains copies of all the files stored at the primary location.

Modem (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.

Mosaic: One of the first graphical World Wide Web browsers developed at NCSA.

Multimedia: A combination of media types on a single document, including: text, graphics, animation, audio and video.

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 of where it came from . and where it is going. This enables chunks of data from many different sources to co-mingle on the same lines, and be sorted and directed to different routes by special machines along the way. This way many people can use the same lines at the same time.

Password: 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$1-6.

Port: First and most generally, a place where information goes into or out of a computer, or both, e.g., the "serial port" on a personal computer is where a 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 number, e.g., 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). Finally, "port" also refers to translating a piece of software to bring it from one type of computer system to another, e.g. to translate a Windows program so that it will run on a Macintosh.

PPP (Point to Point Protocol): Most well known as 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 is gradually replacing SLIP for this purpose. See also: IP number, Internet, SLIP, TCP/IP

Router: 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.

Search Engines: Search engines are tools developed by certain companies which maintain vast databases of Internet information and enable you to research a topic, in anorganized and methodical way, on the Internet. Examples of common search engines are Yahoo, AltaVista, Infoseek, Lycos.

Server: 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 server, or to the machine on which the software is running, e.g., "Our mail server is down today, that's why e-mail isn't getting out." A single server machine could have several different server software packages running on it, thus providing many different services to clients on the network.

SLIP (Serial Line Internet Protocol): A standard for using a regular telephone line (a "serial line") and a modem to connect a computer as a real Internet site. SLIP is gradually being replaced by PPP.

T-1 Line: A T-1 line is a high speed high bandwidth phone connection. It carries 1.544 megabits per second of data. It is capable of handling tens of thousands of requests for information on a daily basis.

T-3 Line: A line connection capable of carrying data at 45,000,000 bits per second. This is more than enough to do full screen, full motion video.

TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol): This is 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.

Telnet: The 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.

UNIX: 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 and has TCP/IP built-in. It is the, most common operating system for servers on the Internet.

URL (Uniform Resource Locator): The standard way to give the address of any resource on the Internet that is part of the World Wide Web (WWW). The URL describes everything that isnecessary for a Web Browser to locate your request. The URL defines thename of the computer the site is housed on, the path and the file name . A URL looks like or telnet:// or news:new.newusers.questions. The most common way to use a URL is to enter it into a WWW browser program, such as Netscape, Mosaic, or Lynx.

URL: This stands for Uniform Resource Locator. It is a standardized addressing system used on the Internet. The URL describes everything that isnecessary for a Web Browser to locate your request. The URL defines the name of the computer the site is housed on, the path and the file name .

Usenet: A worldwide system of discussion groups, with comments passed among hundreds of thousands of machines. Not all Usenet machines are on the Internet. Usenet is completely decentralized, with over 10,000 discussion areas, called newsgroups.

Veronica (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.

WAIS (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.

WAN (Wide Area Network): Any internet or network that covers an area larger than a single building or campus.

Web Browser: Software (an application or peogram) that allows you to retrieve and view files that are hypertext documents, linkedgraphics, video or audio, from the Web. The browser interprets the hypertext language in order to properly display the document. Examples of common browsers are Mosaic, Netscape, WebCrawler, Microsoft's Internet Explorer.

Web Server: This is the host computer that houses your home page and web site. It "serves" many functions allowing full time access to your site. For example, it houses software to facilitate CGI forms, E-Mail, and domain names.

Web Site: This is your home page and set of pages that represent who you are to theWeb community. It can be a combination of text documents, graphics,video, audio, and interactive forms.

World Wide Web: The World Wide Web is a collection of computer files that are text documents, graphics, video and audio housed on computer networks all over the world. The documents are written with hypertext, a special code allowing you to linkfrom one web document to another. This information is accessed via the Internet, through Web browsers.

Page last updated: November 30, 1999
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