Glossary of Internet Terms
ADSL -- (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line)
A DSL line where the upload speed is different from the download speed. Usually the download speed is much greater.
A small Java program that can be embedded in an HTML page.
ASCII -- (American Standard Code for Information Interchange)
This is the de facto world-wide standard for the code numbers used by computers to represent all the upper and lower-case Latin letters, numbers, punctuation, etc. There are 128 standard ASCII codes each of which can be represented by a 7 digit binary number: 0000000 through 1111111.
A high-speed line or series of connections that forms a major pathway within a network. The term is relative as a backbone in a small network will likely be much smaller than many non-backbone lines in a large network.
How much stuff you can send through a connection. Usually measured in bits-per-second. A full page of English text is about 16,000 bits. A fast modem can move about 57,000 bits in one second. Full-motion full-screen video would require roughly 10,000,000 bits-per-second, depending on compression.
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. In the early 1990's there were many thousands (millions?) of
BBS's around the world, most are very small, running on a single IBM clone PC with 1 or 2 phone lines. Some are very large and the line between a BBS and a system like AOL gets crossed at some point, but it is not clearly drawn.
Bit -- (Binary Digit)
A single digit number in base-2, in other words, either a 1 or a zero. The smallest unit of computerized data.
Bandwidth is usually measured in bits-per-second.
bps -- (Bits-Per-Second)
A measurement of how fast data is moved from one place to another. A 56K modem can move about 57,000 bits per second.
A Client program (software) that is used to look at various kinds of Internet resources.
BTW -- (By The Way)
A shorthand appended to a comment written in an online forum.
A set of Bits that represent a single character. Usually there are 8 Bits in a Byte, sometimes more, depending on how the measurement is being made.
An issuer of Security Certificates used in SSL connections.
CGI -- (Common Gateway Interface)
A set of rules that describe how a Web Server communicates with another piece of software on the same machine, and how the other piece of software (the ?CGI program?) talks to the web server. Any piece of software can be a CGI program if it handles input and output according to the CGI standard.
The most common name of a directory on a web server in which CGI
programs are stored.
A software program that is used to contact and obtain data from a Server software program on another computer, often across a great distance.
Each client program is designed to work with one or more specific kinds of Server programs, and each Server requires a specific kind of Client. A Web Browser is a specific kind of Client.
Most often used to refer to having a server that belongs to one person or group physically located on an Internet-connected network that belongs to another person or group. Usually this is done because the server owner wants their machine to be on a high-speed Internet connection and/or they do not want the security risks of having the server on
their own network.
The most common meaning of "Cookie" on the Internet refers to a piece of information sent by a Web Server to a Web Browser that the Browser software is expected to save and to send back to the Server whenever the browser makes additional requests from the Server.
Depending on the type of Cookie used, and the Browsers' settings, the Browser may accept or not accept the Cookie, and may save the Cookie for either a short time or a long time.
Cookies might contain information such as login or registration information, online "shopping cart" information, user preferences, etc.
When a Server receives a request from a Browser that includes a Cookie, the Server is able to use the information stored in the Cookie. For example, the Server might customize what is sent back to the user, or keep a log of particular users' requests.
Cookies are usually set to expire after a predetermined amount of time and are usually saved in memory until the Browser software is closed down, at which time they may be saved to disk if their "expire time" has not been reached.
Cookies do not read your hard drive and send your life story to the CIA, but they can be used to gather more information about a user than would be possible without them.
Term originated by author William Gibson in his novel Neuromancer the word Cyberspace is currently used to describe the whole range of information resources available through computer networks.
The unique name that identifies an Internet site. Domain Names always have 2 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. For example, the domain names:
can all refer to the same machine, but each domain name can refer to no more than 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
(seniormag.com in the examples above). 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.
DSL -- (Digital Subscriber Line)
A method for moving data over regular phone lines. A DSL circuit is much faster than a regular phone connection, and the wires coming into the subscriber's premises are the same (copper) wires used for regular phone service.
A DSL circuit must be configured to connect two specific locations, similar to a leased line
(however a DSL circuit is not a leased line.
A common configuration of DSL allows downloads at speeds of up to 1.544 megabits (not megabytes) per second, and uploads at speeds of 128 kilobits per second. This arrangement is called ADSL: Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line.
Email -- (Electronic Mail)
Messages, usually text, sent from one person to another via computer. E-mail can also be sent automatically to a large number of addresses.
A very common method of networking computers in a LAN.
There is more than one type of Ethernet. By 2001 the standard type was "100-BaseT" which can handle up to about 100,000,000 bits-per-second and can be used with almost any kind of computer.
An intranet that is accessible to computers that are not physically part of a
company's' own private network, but that is not accessible to the general public, for example to allow vendors and business partners to access a company web site.
Often an intranet will make use of a Virtual Private Network. (VPN.)
FAQ -- (Frequently Asked Questions)
FAQs are documents that list and answer the most common questions on a particular subject. There are hundreds of FAQs on subjects as diverse as Pet Grooming and Cryptography. FAQs are usually written by people who have tired of answering the same question over and over.
A combination of hardware and software that separates a Network into two or more parts for security purposes.
Originally, "flame" meant to carry forth in a passionate manner in the spirit of honorable debate. Flames most often involved the use of flowery language and flaming well was an art form. More recently flame has come to refer to any kind of derogatory comment no matter how witless or crude.
When an online discussion degenerates into a series of personal attacks against the
debaters, rather than discussion of their positions. A heated exchange.
FTP -- (File Transfer Protocol)
A very common method of moving files between two Internet sites.
FTP is a way to login to another Internet site for the purposes of retrieving and/or sending files. There are many Internet sites that have established publicly accessible repositories of material that can be obtained using FTP, by logging in using the account name "anonymous", thus these sites are called "anonymous ftp servers".
FTP was invented and in wide use long before the advent of the World Wide Web and originally was always used from a text-only interface.
GIF -- (Graphic Interchange Format)
A common format for image files, especially suitable for images containing large areas of the same color. GIF format files of simple images are often smaller than the same file would be if stored in JPEG format, but GIF format does not store photographic images as well as JPEG.
1000 or 1024 Megabytes, depending on who is measuring.
As used in reference to the World Wide Web, ?hit? means a single request from a web browser for a single item from a web server; thus in order for a web browser to display a page that contains 3 graphics, 4
hits would occur at the server: 1 for the HTML page, and one for each of the 3 graphics.
Home Page (or Homepage)
Several meanings. Originally, the web page that your browser is set to use when it starts up. The more common meaning refers to the main web page for a business, organization, person or simply the main page out of a collection of web pages, e.g.
Check out so-and-so's new Home Page.
Any computer on a network that is a repository for services available to other computers on the network. It is quite common to have one host machine provide several services, such as SMTP (email) and HTTP (web).
HTML -- (HyperText Markup Language)
The coding language used to create Hypertext documents for use on the World Wide Web. HTML looks a lot like old-fashioned typesetting code, where you surround a block of text with codes that indicate how it should appear.
The "hyper" in Hypertext comes from the fact that in HTML you can specify that a block of text, or an image, is linked to another file on the Internet. HTML files are meant to be viewed using a "Web Browser".
HTTP -- (HyperText Transfer Protocol)
The protocol for moving hypertext files across the Internet. Requires a HTTP client program on one end, and an HTTP server program on the other end. HTTP is the most important protocol used in the World Wide Web (WWW).
IMHO -- (In My Humble Opinion)
A shorthand appended to a comment written in an online forum, IMHO indicates that the writer is aware that they
are expressing a debatable view, probably on a subject already under discussion. One of many such shorthands in common use online, especially in discussion forums.
internet (Lower case i)
Any time you connect 2 or more networks together, you have an internet - as in inter-national or inter-state.
Internet (Upper case I)
The vast collection of inter-connected networks that are connected using the TCP/IP protocols and that evolved from the ARPANET of the late 60's and early 70's.
The Internet connects tens of thousands of independent networks into a vast global internet and is probably the largest Wide Area Network in the world.
A private network inside a company or organization that uses the same kinds of software that you would find on the public Internet, but that is only for internal use. Compare with extranet.
See also: Extranet, internet (Lower case i), Internet (Upper case I)
IP Number -- (Internet Protocol Number)
Sometimes called a dotted quad. A unique number consisting of 4 parts separated by dots, e.g.
Every machine that is on the Internet has a unique IP number - if a machine does not have an IP number, it is not really on the Internet. Many machines (especially servers) also have one or more Domain Names that are easier for people to remember.
ISDN -- (Integrated Services Digital Network)
Basically a way to move more data over existing regular phone lines. ISDN is available to much of the USA and in most markets it is priced very comparably to standard analog phone circuits.
It can provide speeds of roughly 128,000 bits-per-second over regular phone lines. In practice, most people will be limited to 56,000or 64,000 bits-per-second.
Unlike DSL, ISDN can be used to connect to many different locations, one at a time, just like a regular telephone call, as long the other location also has ISDN.
ISP -- (Internet Service Provider)
An institution that provides access to the Internet in some form, usually for money.
Java is a network-friendly programming language invented by Sun Microsystems.
Java is often used to build large, complex systems that involve several different computers interacting across networks, for example transaction processing systems.
Java is also becoming popular for creating programs that run in small electronic
devices, such as mobile telephones.
A very common use of Java is to create programs that can be safely downloaded to your computer through the Internet and immediately run without fear of viruses or other harm to your computer or files. Using small Java programs (called "Applets"), Web pages can include functions such as
animations, calculators, and other fancy tricks.
JPEG -- (Joint Photographic Experts Group)
JPEG is most commonly mentioned as a format for image files. JPEG format is preferred to the GIF format for photographic images as opposed to line art or simple logo art.
A thousand bytes. Actually, usually 1024 (210) bytes.
LAN -- (Local Area Network)
A computer network limited to the immediate area, usually the same building or floor of a building.
Refers to line such as a telephone line or fiber-optic cable that is rented for exclusive 24-hour, 7-days-a-week use from your location to another location. The highest speed data connections require a leased line.
The most common kind of maillist, "Listserv" is a registered trademark of L-Soft international, Inc. Listservs originated on BITNET but they are now common on the Internet.
Noun or a verb.
Noun: The account name used to gain access to a computer system. Not a secret (contrast with Password).
Verb: the act of connecting to a computer system by giving your credentials (usually your "username" and "password")
(or Mailing List) A (usually automated) system that allows people to send e-mail to one address, whereupon their message is copied and sent to all of the other subscribers to the maillist. In this way, people who have many different kinds of e-mail access can participate in discussions together.
A million bytes. Actually, technically, 1024 kilobytes.
MIME -- (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions)
Originally a standard for defining the types of files attached to standard Internet mail messages. The MIME standard has come to be used in many situations where one
computer programs needs to communicate with another program about what kind of file is being sent.
For example, HTML files have a MIME-type of text/html, JPEG files are image/jpeg, etc.
Generally speaking, "to mirror" is to maintain an exact copy of something. Probably the most common use of the term on the Internet refers to "mirror sites" which are web sites, or FTP sites that maintain copies of material originated at another location, usually in order to provide more widespread access to the resource. For example, one site might create a library of software, and 5 other sites might maintain mirrors of that library.
Modem -- (MOdulator, DEModulator)
A device that connects a computer to a phone line. A telephone for a computer. A modem allows a computer to talk to other computers through the phone system. Basically, modems do for computers what a telephone does for humans.
The etiquette on the Internet.
Derived from the term citizen, referring to a citizen of the
Internet, or someone who uses networked resources. The term connotes civic responsibility and participation.
A WWW Browser and the name of a company. The Netscape (tm) browser was originally based on the Mosaic program developed at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA).
Any time you connect 2 or more computers together so that they can share resources, you have a computer network. Connect 2 or more networks together and you have an internet.
The name for discussion groups on USENET.
NIC -- (Network Information Center)
Generally, any office that handles information for a network. The most famous of these on the Internet was the InterNIC, which was where most new domain names were registered until that process was decentralized to a number of private companies.
Open Source Software
Open Source Software is software for which the underlying programming code is available to the users so that they may read it, make changes to it, and build new versions of the software incorporating their changes.
There are many types of Open Source Software, mainly differing in the licensing term under which (altered) copies of the source code may (or must be) redistributed.
A code used to gain access (login) to a locked system. Good passwords contain letters and non-letters and are not simple combinations such as virtue7. A good password might be:
A (usually small) piece of software that adds features to a larger piece of software. Common examples are plug-ins for the Netscape® browser and web server. Adobe Photoshop® also uses plug-ins.
POP -- (Point of Presence, also Post Office Protocol)
Two commonly used meanings:
Point of Presence and Post Office Protocol.
A Point of Presence usually means a city or location where a network can be connected to, often with dial up phone lines.
So if an Internet company says they will soon have a POP in Belgrade, it means that they will soon have a local phone number in Belgrade and/or a place where leased lines can connect to their network.
A second meaning, Post Office Protocol refers to a way that e-mail client software such as Eudora gets mail from a mail server.
When you obtain an account from an Internet Service Provider (ISP) you almost always get a POP account with it, and it is this POP account that you tell your e-mail software to use to get your mail. Another protocol called IMAP is replacing POP for email.
3 meanings. 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 numbers, 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:
This 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 is will run on a Macintosh.
Usually used as a marketing term to described a Web site that is or is intended to be the first place people see when using the Web. Typically a "Portal site" has a catalog of web sites, a search engine, or both. A Portal site may also offer email and other service to entice people to use that site as their main "point of entry" (hence "portal") to the Web.
A single message entered into a network communications system.
PPP -- (Point to Point Protocol)
The most common protocol used to connect home computers to the Internet over regular phone lines.
Most well known as a protocol that allows a computer to use a regular telephone line and a modem to make
TCP/IP connections and thus be really and truly on the Internet.
A Proxy Server sits in between a Client and the "real" Server that a Client is trying to use. Client's are sometimes configured to use a Proxy Server, usually an HTTP server.
The clients makes all of it's requests from the Proxy Server, which then makes requests from the "real" server and passes the result back to the Client.
Sometimes the Proxy server will store the results and give a stored result instead of making a new one (to reduce use of a Network). Proxy servers are commonly established on Local Area Networks
See also: Client, HTTP, LAN, Network, Server
A special-purpose computer (or software package) that handles the connection between 2 or more Packet-Switched networks. Routers spend all their time looking at the source and destination addresses of the packets passing through them and deciding which route to send them on.
See also: Network, Packet Switching
A (usually web-based) system for searching the information available on the Web.
Some search engines work by automatically searching the contents of other systems and creating a database of the results. other search engines contains only material manually approved for inclusion in a database, and some combine the two approaches.
A chunk of information (often stored as a text file) that is used by the SSL protocol to establish a secure connection.
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 WWW 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 can (and often does) have several different server software packages running on it, thus providing many different servers to clients on the network.
SMTP -- (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol)
The main protocol used to send electronic mail from server to server on the Internet.
SMTP is defined in RFC 821 and modified by many later RFC's
Spam (or Spamming)
An inappropriate attempt to use a mailing list, or USENET or other networked communications facility as if it was a broadcast medium (which it is not) by sending the same message to a large number of people who
didn't ask for it.
The term probably comes from a famous Monty Python skit which featured the word spam repeated over and over.
The term may also have come from
someone's low opinion of the food product with the same name, which is generally perceived as a generic content-free waste of resources. (Spam® is a registered trademark of Hormel Corporation, for its processed meat product.)
SQL -- (Structured Query Language)
A specialized language for sending queries to databases. Most industrial-strength and many smaller database applications can be addressed using SQL.
Each specific application will have its own slightly different version of SQL implementing features unique to that application, but all SQL-capable databases support a common subset of SQL.
A example of an SQl statement is:
SSL -- (Secure Socket Layer)
A protocol designed by Netscape Communications to enable encrypted, authenticated communications across the Internet.
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 included with every major kind of computer operating system. To be truly on the Internet, your computer must have TCP/IP software.
See also: Internet (Upper case I), Packet Switching, Unix
See also: Gigabyte
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 (it is multi-user) and has TCP/IP built-in. It is the most common operating system for servers on the Internet.
Apple computers' Macintosh operating system, as of version 10, is based on Unix.
URL -- (Uniform Resource Locator)
The term URL is basically synonymous with URI. URI has replaced URL in technical specifications.
See also: URI, URN
A world-wide 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.
See also: Newsgroup
UUENCODE -- (Unix to Unix Encoding)
A method for converting files from Binary to ASCII (text) so that they can be sent across the Internet
VPN -- (Virtual Private Network)
Usually refers to a network in which some of the parts are connected using the public Internet, but the data sent across the Internet is encrypted, so the entire network is "virtually" private.
WAN -- (Wide Area Network)
Any internet or network that covers an area larger than a single building or campus.
WWW -- (World Wide Web)
Frequently used (incorrectly) when referring to "The Internet", WWW has two major meanings - First, loosely used: the whole constellation of resources that can be accessed using Gopher, FTP,
HTTP, telnet, USENET, WAIS and some other tools. Second, the universe of hypertext servers (HTTP servers) which are the servers that allow text, graphics, sound files, etc. to be mixed together.
XML -- (eXtensible Markup Language)
A widely used system for defining data formats. XML provides a very rich system to define complex documents and data structures such as invoices, molecular data, news feeds, glossaries, inventory descriptions, real estate properties, etc.
As long as a programmer has the XML definition for a collection of data (often called a "schema") then they can create a program to reliably process any data formatted according to those rules.