Glossary of Computer Terms

Computer Terms Glossary

This page is meant to serve as a guide to the vast quantity of computer terms and acronyms in common use for the casual computer user. It is divided into two main sections, the first is dedicated to the basics and is meant more for beginners, while the second is meant instead to be used as a reference. In reality many of the terms in the second section are still quite common; the first section was deliberately kept as short as possible.

Terms in the second section may be looked up by either using the "find in page" function of your browser, or by appending "#term" (without the quotes and where term is the term of interest) to the "URL" or "go to" section of your browser, keeping in mind that case matters. The best method of searching for a term though is to use the Search Interface that will return not only the specific term sought but also other entries that reference it. Be aware that the terms referenced in the second part of this page will freely assume familiarity with the first part.

If you are instead actually trying to figure out what a particular filename extension means, you might instead try the filename extensions page.

If you want something added or see a problem with something already here (but keep in mind this guide is not meant to be overly technical) please send .


The term network computer refers to any (usually desktop) computer system that is designed to work as part of a network rather than as a stand-alone machine. This saves money on hardware, software, and maintenance by taking advantage of facilities already available on the network. The term "Internet appliance" is often used interchangeably with NC.
A network (as applied to computers) typically means a group of computers working together. It can also refer to the physical wire etc. connecting the computers.
A notebook is a small laptop with similar price, performance, and battery life.


Nagware is a variant of shareware that will frequently remind its users to register.
A free variant of Berkeley UNIX available for Alpha, x86, 68xx, PA-RISC, SPARC, PowerPC, ARM, and many other types of machines. Its emphasis is on portability.
The established conventions of online politeness are called netiquette. Some conventions vary from site to site or online medium to online medium; others are pretty standard everywhere. Newbies are often unfamiliar with the conventional rules of netiquette and sometimes embarrass themselves accordingly. Be sure not to send that incredibly important e-mail message before reading about netiquette.
A newbie is a novice to the online world or computers in general.
Usenet news can generally be thought of as public e-mail as that is generally the way it behaves. In reality, it is implemented by different software and is often accessed by different programs. Different newsgroups adhere to different topics, and some are "moderated", meaning that humans will try to manually remove off-topic posts, especially spam. Most established newsgroups have a FAQ, and people are strongly encouraged to read the FAQ prior to posting.
Although Newton is officially the name of the lightweight OS developed by Apple to run on its MessagePad line of PDAs, it is often used to mean the MessagePads (and compatible PDAs) themselves and thus the term "Newton OS" is often used for clarity. The Newton OS is remarkably powerful; it is fully multitasking in spite of the fact that it was designed for small machines. It is optimized for hand-held use, but will readily transfer data to all manner of desktop machines. Historically it was the first PDA. Recently Apple announced that it will discontinue further development of the Newton platform, but will instead work to base future hand-held devices on either Mac OS or Mac OS X with some effort dedicated to making the new devices capable of running current Newton programs.
Newton book
Newton books provide all the functionality of ordinary books but add searching and hypertext capabilities. The format was invented for the Newton to provide a means of making volumes of data portable, and is particularly popular in the medical community as most medical references are available as Newton books and carrying around a one pound Newton is preferable to carrying around twenty pounds of books, especially when it comes to looking up something. In addition to medical books, numerous references, most of the classics, and many contemporary works of fiction are available as Newton books. Most fiction is available for free, most references cost money. Newton books are somewhat more capable than the similar Palm DOC; both are specific types of e-books.
Newton Script
A intepreted, object-oriented language for Newton MessagePad computers.
Nimrod is a compiled language influenced by C, C++, and Objective-C with some object-oriented programming capabilities.
A nybble is half a byte, or four bits. It is a case of computer whimsy; it only stands to reason that a small byte should be called a nybble. Some authors spell it with an "i" instead of the "y", but the "y" is the original form.