bit, bytes - A bit is the smallest piece of information that computers use. For simplicity, a PC uses bits in groups of 8 called bytes (8 bits = 1 byte).
Bluetooth - a way of communicating wirelessly over short distances between electronic devices (for example computer and mobile telephone)
boot, boot up, boot disk - You boot (or boot up) your computer when you switch it on and wait while it prepares itself. Instructions for startup are given to the computer from the boot disk, which is usually the hard disk.
bug - A (small) defect or fault in a program.
CPU - Central Processing Unit. This is a PC's heart or "brains".
data - usually means the information (text, pictures, audio etc) that you create or share on a computer, as opposed to the programs that manipulate the data.
DOS - Disk Operating System. The original system used for PCs, where you typed in commands instead of pointing and clicking.
electronic mail (email, e-mail) - Messages sent from one computer to another. You can see email on the screen or print it out.
floppy drive - The device used to run a floppy disk (usually drive "A".) (Now virtually obsolete.)
font - A particular sort of lettering (on the screen or on paper). Arial is a font. Times New Roman is another.
format - All hard disks and floppy disks have to be electronically prepared for use by a process called formatting. Hard disks are pre-formatted by the computer manufacturer. If you buy a floppy disk that is not pre-formatted, you format it yourself, using a program that comes with your PC.
graphics card - The equipment inside a computer that creates the image on the screen.
hotspot - an area that has an available wireless signal for Internet access (usually public).
iPad - a tablet computer created by Apple.
Kb, Mb, Gb - kilobytes, megabytes, gigabytes. Used to measure computer memory and storage.
Kindle - a device for downloading and reading ebooks, developed by Amazon.com.
MHz - Megahertz. This describes the speed of computer equipment. The higher the MHz the better the performance.
notebook - a notebook computer; a laptop computer; a folding, portable computer.
operating system (OS) - The basic software that manages a computer (for example, Windows 7, OS X, Unix, iOS).
OCR - Optical Character Recognition. OCR lets a PC read a fax or scanned image and convert it to actual lettering.
parallel port - A socket at the back of a computer for connecting external equipment or peripherals, especially printers.
pixel - The image that you see on the screen is made of thousands of tiny dots, points or pixels.
program Software that operates a PC and does various things, such as writing text (word-processing program), keeping accounts (accounts program) and drawing pictures (graphics program).
QWERTY - The first 6 letters on English-language keyboards are Q-W-E-R-T-Y. The first 6 letters on French-language keyboards are A-Z-E-R-T-Y.
RAM, ROM - Two types of memory. RAM (Random Access Memory) is the main memory used while the PC is working. RAM is temporary. ROM (Read Only Memory) is for information needed by the PC and cannot be changed.
resolution - The number of dots or pixels per inch (sometimes per centimetre) used to create the screen image.
scanner - Equipment for converting paper documents to electronic documents that can be used by a computer.
serial port - Socket at the back of a PC for connecting peripherals (obsolescent).
TFT - Thin Film Transistor, a type of high quality screen for notebook computers.
USB - abbreviation of "universal serial bus"; a standardized connection for attaching devices to computers etc.
Wi-Fi - a system for communicating without wires over a computer network.
Windows - An operating system used by the majority of PCs.
World Wide Web, WWW, the Web - WWW are initials that stand for World Wide Web. The Web is one of the services available on the Internet. It lets you access millions of pages through a system of links. Because it is "world-wide", it was originally called the World Wide Web or WWW.
WYSIWIG - "What You See Is What You Get." With a WYSIWIG program, if you print a document it looks the same on paper as it looks on the screen.