IT Help Desk
Kansas State University
214 Hale Library
Manhattan KS 66506

785-532-7722
800-865-6143
helpdesk@k-state.edu

Technology Terms

Audio sound system

An audio system is usually included in a PC to provide digital-sound capability. It includes a hardware sound card (sound board), speakers, and a software program that runs the system.

CD-ROM drive

Acronym for "compact disc, read-only memory". A CD-ROM drive is used to access a CD-ROM storage medium, which can contain up to 700 megabytes of data.

CD-RW drive

Acronym for "compact disc, read/write". A CD-RW drive allows you to both read and write data to a CD. It stores about 700 megabytes of data. See Wikipedia's "CD" definition.

CPU (central processing unit)

The main part of the computer that manages, stores, and uses data. Processor speed is typically measured in gigahertz (GHz).

Dual-core processor

A dual-core processor is essentially two processors in one, greatly improving processing power. Dual-core processors are common in new Apple and PC systems.

DVD drive

Acronym for "Digital Versatile Disc". It's a CD format that can store up to 17 gigabytes of data (enough for a full-length movie). This format is expected to replace CD drives.

DVD-RW drive

Acronym for "digital versatile disc, read/write". A DVD-RW drive allows you to both read and write data to a DVD multiple times. It stores about 17 gigabytes of data (or a full-length movie). See Wikipedia's "DVD" definition.

Ethernet card

A hardware component that provides communications between a PC and a network connection. See Network card.

Floppy drive

Also known as a "floppy disk drive". It's where a portable floppy diskette, usually 3.5 inches aquare, can be inserted and used as a data-storage device.

Hard drive

Also known as the "hard disk" or "hard disk drive". It's a large storage area with capacity for storing gigabytes of data. Usually known as the C-drive on a PC (C:\).

Internet Service Provider

A company that provides network connection to the Internet, usually for a fee.

Keyboard

An input device with alphabetic, numeric, and function keys, and more.

Memory

A computer's primary storage area (Random Access Memory).

Modem

Acronym for "MOdulator-DEModulator". A device that encodes and decodes digital signals for transmission over telephone lines.

Monitor

The hardware component that provides the visual display, usually in color.

Network card

A hardware component that provides communications between a PC and a network connection, typically to a local area network (LAN) or an Internet Service Provider (ISP). See Wikipedia's "network card" definition.

Operating system (OS)

The master program that controls the computer. Two popular ones are Windows and Mac OS.

Pointing device

A mouse, touchpad, trackball, or other device used for positioning the cursor on a computer screen.

Software

A program that can be run and stored on a computer for specific uses, including commmunications, data processing, entertainment, and management tools.

Sound system

A system usually included in a PC to provide digital-sound capability. It includes a hardware sound card (sound board), speakers, and a software program that runs the system.

USB flash drive, USB port

This storage drive is also referred to as a thumb drive.
It is a small, finger-sized, portable device for data storage. To access, store, or change data on a USB flash drive, it must be connected to a computer's USB port or a USB hub. A USB port is the point on a computer where a USB drive can be connected or plugged in. See Wikipedia's "USB flash drive" definition.

Video card

An interchangeable hardware component which handles the graphics processing and display of images.

Zip drive

A storage drive that allows 100, 250, and 750 megabytes of data to be stored on an inexpensive, portable disk about the size of a floppy disk.