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Computer Terms for Newbies


CD-ROM:  A device that plays compact discs or runs computer programs stored on

                   a compact disc. If your computer has a CD-ROM,

                   you are not able to make your own personal CDs.

CD-RW:  A device that allows your computer to play compact discs or create your own.

DVD:   Stands for digital video disk. It is much like an ordinary CD, except it stores more              data and can play high-quality videos.


Firewire:   A cable that allows massive amounts of data to be transferred into a computer at a very high speed. This is very important for people using computers for advanced photography or video production.


Hard drive:  The place on a computer where data is stored and retrieved. All of a new computer's programs are stored on the hard drive.


Modem:   A device that allows a computer to transmit data over telephone lines. It is the most common way that people connect to the Internet.


Monitor:  The display screen for a computer. It looks much like a small television set except with much better clarity.


Mouse:   A handheld device that moves the on-screen pointer. A mouse enables a computer user to perform many tasks without the use of a keyboard.


Processor:  The brains of the entire computer. The higher the number of MHz    (megahertz), the faster the computer will process information. Therefore, a

 75-MHz processor is slower than a 100-MHz processor.


RAM:   Stands for random access memory. It is the place where computer programs store data to access it quickly. The more RAM your computer has, the more efficiently your computer will operate. This is the most important area a buyer should invest in when purchasing a new computer.


Software:   Computer programs that have a specific use to a computer user. Some examples are word processors, spreadsheets, or games.


USB: Allows a computer user to easily install an additional device such as a scanner or a CD-RW. The USB (universal serial bus) cable is plugged into the device and into the computer. This eliminates the need for a user to disassemble the computer to install a new device.