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Glossary of Terms: M to P

| A to D | E to H | I to L | M to P | Q to T | U to Z |

A highly successful line of personal computers designed by Apple Computers. Called a "Mac" for short, Macintosh computers, with their operating system called "System", practically pioneered the graphical user interface. Using a system of a desktop work area and icons to represent files, Macs were a long-time favorite for people wanting ease-of-use and a visual interface.

A mini-program which will execute a series of commands in series, saving the user having to repeat typing or data input. Macros are typically created to perform frequently used tasks.

Maximize Button
In Windows, a button in the upper right corner of a Window that, when clicked, enlarges the window to its maximum size. When the window is already at its maximum size,the maximize button switches to the restore button, which returns the window to its previous size.

Megabyte or MB
A unit of data measurement equal to approximately one million bytes. Hard drive manufacturers use an even number as a multiplier. In this case 1 MB would be 1,000,000 bytes.

A list of operations or tasks available to a user in a given program, usually organized in some logical fashion. Users access a function or command by selecting it from the menu.

The smallest and least expensive class of computers. Also called a personal computer.

Microsoft Corporation
An incredibly successful supplier of computer software founded in 1975 by Bill Gates and his partner Paul Allen. Microsoft has grown to become the world leader in the software industry by supplying software to the world’s largest computer base (IBM-compatibles). A large portion of Microsoft’s success is due to its popular Windows operating environment.

Microsoft Internet Explorer
Microsoft’s World Wide Web browser.

Microsoft Windows
Windows was introduced as a graphical operating environment that simplified DOS commands and tasks by converting programs and commands to icons that were "clicked" (selected with a mouse or other pointing device) to initiate. Windows also introduced the feature multi-tasking to the IBM-based computer.

Minimize Button
In a Windows environments, the button is in the upper right corner of the window. When clicked it reduces the window to an icon or a taskbar button in order to display the desktop.

A configuration of PCs similar to a tower case (taller than it is wide), but typically houses fewer drives and expansion cards than its larger counterpart.

A recent technology created by Intel Corporation to enhance their Pentium processor’s handling of multimedia applications.

Acronym for modulator/demodulator, a device that translates digital impulses from a computer into analog signals for telephone transmission, and analog signals from the telephone into digital pulses the computer can understand. Provides communication capabilities between computer equipment over common telephone facilities.

A screen which allows the user to watch and interact with the computer. A monitor is different from a television because it does not have a tuner for pulling in TV signals, is of a much higher resolution than TVs are.

The main circuit board in a computer. The motherboard houses a variety of microchips, sockets, and plugs, and plays an integral part in connecting all of a computer’s parts together.

A common pointing device that senses its movement across a flat surface and transmits that information to the computer, typically to control the position of a cursor or pointer. A mouse is usually equipped with 1-3 buttons that also send signals to the computer.

A combination of various types of media, including sound, animation, video and graphics. Due to the generally large size of "multimedia" files, a CD-ROM is usually necessary to store files. As well, appropriate sound and video cards and speakers are also necessary.

The ability of an operating system to run more than one program simultaneously, allowing the user to easily switch and share information between applications.

My Computer
An icon present on the Windows desktop that enables users to view drives, folders, and files.

Two or more computers connected together to share files and resources.

Network Computer
Also called NC. A computer designed specifically for use on the internet or some other type of network. NCs typically have no drives of their own and rely heavily on a remote internet server to download and run applications.

A popular feature of the Internet. Sort of an electronic bulletin board, newsgroups are organized by subjects, and members can post messages for other members to read, as well as reply to any posted messages.

Number Pad
An extra set of numeric keys on the right side of the keyboard, used in the same manner as a calculator’s 10-key pad. The number pad can also double as a set of arrow keys if the Num Lock toggle switch is set to off.

Num Lock
A key on the keyboard that toggles the Number Pad between arrow keys and number keys.

Office Suite
A collection of powerful programs for business and other uses. Suites make it easy for users to create and share information in databases, spreadsheets, and word processors, as well as other applications. Microsoft Office is a leading office suite, as are Corel’s WordPerfect Suite and Lotus SmartSuite. Open Office is an equally versatile open source Office Suite

Describes the state of a computer when it is turned off. Also refers to work that is done on your local computer, rather than on a network.

OLE (OH-lee, or OH-lay)
Object Linking and Embedding. A feature of Windows and other graphical user interfaces that allows the user to share information and documents created in one program with another. For instance, you can easily insert a spreadsheet created in Microsoft Excel into a report created in Microsoft Word using OLE.

Describes the state of a computer when it is turned on and connected to the Internet via an ISP.

Open Source Software
A method of software distribution where a programmer creates a program and makes it available for others to use without cost, as well as modify the source code and redistribute the modifications to the software user/developer community.

Operating Environment
Also called a shell. A software program designed to simplify an operating system. Earlier versions of Microsoft Windows were operating environments for MS-DOS, and several computer manufacturers are now providing their own "companions" to Windows, which are also operating environments.

Operating System
A group of computer programs that help manage the computer’s resources. It acts as an interface between the computer and its application programs. The operating system’s job is to control the computer on the most fundamental level: it manages memory, controls access to peripheral devices and serves as a translator between the user and the hardware, providing the means for the user and application programs to tell the hardware what to do.

Optical Character Recognition
Also called OCR; A method of recognizing text that has been photographically scanned into a computer. OCR analyzes the shapes of scanned characters and determines which letters in the ASCII character set they resemble most and creates a text file with this information.

Parallel Port
A port through which many units of data can move simultaneously, usually over several different wires. Printers are typically connected to the computer via a parallel port.

A command on the Edit menu that inserts data copied to the clipboard into a document.

The location of a file in the directory tree.

Acronym for Personal Computer.
Is also a line of microcomputers manufactured by IBM Corporation. Often used to refer to any PC-Compatible computer.

A computer that can run the same programs as an IBM PC.

Name given to Intel’s successor to the 486 processor (the "pent-" in Pentium refers to the fact that this chip is, in essence, a 586 processor). Pentium technology is currently the standard, with processor speeds ranging from 120 mHz to 600 mHz and more

Personal Computer
Another name for a microcomputer designed for use by a single user.

Pixel (PICK-sull)
Abbreviation for Picture Element, a pixel is the smallest element on a display screen. Images on a computer screen are made up of hundreds to thousands of pixels, and the screen’s resolution is determined by the size, number, and closeness of these pixels.

A generic term used to refer to a computer’s operating system.

A printing device that draws images on paper using ink pens or pencils. A plotter draws images as a series of point-to-point lines.

Plug ‘n Play
Also called PnP, Plug n’ Play refers to technology that allows you to simply install a new peripheral device on your computer, then start the computer and the operating system will automatically identify the device and load the necessary drivers. PnP was a reaction to the widespread difficulty of having to manually configure each add-on device and driver.

Pop-Up Menu
In Windows and other programs, a pop-up menu is a menu that contains commands for a specific object. You access Pop-Up menus by right clicking an object.

The portion of a computer through which a peripheral device may communicate; a plug-in/socket on the back of the computer for connecting cables for peripherals.

A character or message provided by the computer to indicate that it is ready to accept keyboard input. Usually an on-screen question or instruction that tells the user which data to enter or what action to take; for example, "Enter name:".

A software method that allows different programs or hardware components to communicate with one another.


Nursing Informatics Integration for the BSN and BSN-AE Nursing Programs at Kwantlen Polytechnic University
Design & Content by June Kaminski, RN MSN PhD(c) - 1999 - 2021
All rights reserved. No reproduction without written permission