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Glossary of Internet Terms

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Code by which the Internet identifies you. The format is username@hostname, where username is your username, login name, or account number, and hostname is the name of the computer or Internet provider you use. The hostname may be a few words strung together with periods.

America OnLine
A public Internet provider. If you have an account on America OnLine, is your Internet address, where username is your America OnLine account name.

Anonymous FTP
A way to use the FTP program to log on to another computer to copy files when you don't have an account on the other computer. When you log on, enter 'anonymous' as the username and your 'e-mail address' as the password. This gives you access to publicly available files.

Java's advantage is in that it is composed of many smaller, re-usable chunks of programming code, called "applets" (short for "applications"). This allows for quicker transfer over the internet, meaning many new programs will now be able to become directly interactive, incorporating animation, sound, and more.

A system that helps you find files located anywhere on the Internet. After Archie locates the file, you can use FTP to get it. Archie is both a program and a system of server computers that contain indexes of files.

Asynchronous Communication

Communication that occurs at different times, between two or more individuals, in contrast to Synchronous communication. For e.g. e-mails, some conferencing systems, bulletin boards.

Verifying the identity of a person or computer process.


A high-speed line or series of connections that form a major pathway within a network. The term is relative, since a backbone in a small network will likely be much smaller than many non-backbone lines in a large network.

These are images which are designed to to sit in the background of a web page so that all other information, (e.g. text, images) is seen to sit on top.

Information theory used to express the amount of information that can flow through a given point at a given time. Usually measured in bits per second (bps). Some points have narrow bandwidth indicating not much information can flow at one time, and others have high bandwidth indicating a great deal of information can flow through at one time. This term is usually used in reference to "wasted bandwidth" indicating that some or most of the information flowing by a point is of no use to a user. (e.g. lengthy signatures at the bottom of email messages is seen by many as a waste of bandwidth. Wasted bandwidth is often relative. What is waste to one person might be essential to another.

browse / browser
You get access to the WWW through an application called a 'browser', like Netscape or Mosaic. To 'browse' is to search the WWW for information.

bulletin board System (BBS)
A computer system that provides its users files for downloading and areas for electronic discussions.


Talking in real time to other network users from any and all parts of the world.

cgi script
A cgi script (Common Gateway Interface) is a program that is is run on a web server, triggered by input from a browser. The gateway script is usually a link between the server and some other program running on the system. (e.g. Cgi scripts are used to process a form information.)

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 types of server programs.

When these letters appear in lowercase type at the end of an address, they indicate that the host computer is run by a company rather than a university or government agency. It also means that the host computer is most likely located in the United States.

An online information provider (sometimes abbreviated as CIS) that gives some Internet access. If your CompuServe account number is 7123,456 your Internet address will be Notice that the comma in the CompuServe address becomes a period in the Internet address.

A mechanism for server-side connections to store and retrieve information on the client side.

cross platform
Different computing systems being able to share data.

A virtual universe of computers, programs, and data.


To retrieve a file from another machine, usually a host machine, to your machine.

The Domain Name System. A system for translating computer names into numeric Internet addresses.

Domain name
The unique name that identifies an Internet site. A given machine may have more than one domain name, but a given domain name points to only one machine. 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, an Internet service provider's machine must handle the mail on behalf of the listed domain name.

Dpi stands for dots per square inch. This refers to the amount of pixels in one square inch of a graphical image. The higher the dpi of an image the better the quality the image will be.


When these letters appear at the end of an address (, they indicate that the host computer is run by an educational institution. It also means that the host computer is most likely located in the United States.

e-mail (Electronic Mail)
Messages that travel through the electronic networks rather than being committed to paper.


Forms add extra interactivity to web sites. Questionaires can be created, that include text areas, check boxes and radio buttons which are then sent by the viewer to a specified mail box, usually the manager of the web site.

File Transfer Protocol. A method of transferring one or more files from one computer to another over a network or phone line.

A program that displays information about someone on the net. On most UNIX systems, this command tells you who is logged on right now. On most Internet hosts, it tells you the name, possibly some other information based on the person's Internet address, and the last time they logged on.

A filter for messages. A system that has a firewall lets only certain kinds of messages in and out from the rest of the Internet. If an organization wants to exchange mail with the Internet, but does not want other Internet members "Telnetting in" and reading those files, its connection to the Internet can be protected by using a firewall.


A computer that connects one network with another when the two networks use different protocols. The UUNET computer connects the UUCP network with the Internet, providing a way for mail messages to move between the two networks.

Graphics Interchange Format. A platform-independent file format developed by CompuServe, the GIF format is commonly used to distribute graphics on the Internet.

A system that lets you find information by using menus. To use Gopher, you usually Telnet to a Gopher server and begin browsing the menus.

The breaking down of information to a minimum size to present an idea clearly within the environment that is presented.


helper application
This is an application that adds extra functionality to web documents. e.g. If you download a movie clip the web browser is unable to play the file but it can boot up a helper application, in this case it may be 'Fast Player' (A movie player application).

This refers to the number of people who have visited a given Web Site or page.( e.g.10300 hits)

A computer on the Internet you may be able to log on to. You can use FTP to get files from a host computer, and use other programs (such as Telnet) to make use of the host computer.

Computer applications that have the ability to link information to information created by another application, characteristic of Internet Applications.

Hypertext Transfer Protocol. The method by which World Wide Web pages are transferred over the network.

Hypertext Markup Language. A system used for writing pages for the World Wide Web. HTML allows text to include codes that define fonts, layout, embedded graphics, and hypertext links.

A system of writing and displaying text that enables the text to be linked in multiple ways, available at several levels of detail. Hypertext documents can also contain links to related documents, such as those referred to in footnotes. Hypermedia can also contain pictures, sounds, and /or video.


Image map
An image map is another way of creating links between web pages. In image maps, different parts of the image activate different links.

A collective term given to all Digital Media.

Internet access
Internet access is usually made through a University Network or a commercial service provider.

The vast collection of interconnected networks that all use the TCP/IP protocols and that evolved from the ARPANET of the late 1960s and early 1970s. The Internet connects roughly 60,000 independent networks into a vast, global Internet.

Internet Protocol. The transport layer protocol used as a basis of the Internet. IP enables information to be routed from one network to another in packets and then reassembled when they reach their destination.

IP Number
A four-part number separated by periods (for example, that uniquely identifies a machine on the Internet. Every machine on the Internet has a unique IP number; if a machine does not have an IP number, it is not really on the Internet. Most machines also have one or more domain names that are easier for people to remember.

Internet Relay Chat. A system that enables Internet users to talk with each other in real time over the Internet rather than in person.

Integrated Services Digital Network. A way to move more data over existing regular phone lines. ISDN is only slowly becoming available in the USA. ISDN can provide speeds of 64,000 bits per second over a regular phone line at almost the same cost as a normal phone call.


This programming code works in conjunction with HTML to allow dynamic programs to run and interact with your computer, where straight HTML is primarily linear information downloaded to your computer for static display. Java is a product created by Sun Microsystems. Watch for many new web sites to start incorporating limitless graphics, sound, motion, programs, etc..

Joint Photographic Experts Group. A group that has defined a compression scheme that reduces the size of image files by up to 20 times at the cost of slightly reduced image quality.



Local Area Network. A group of connected computers, usually located in close proximity (such as the same building or floor of the building) so data can be passed among them.

land lines
Communication technologies that are physical cable laid under the ground (e.g. copper cables, fibre Optic) unlike radio communications.

Leased line
Refers to a phone line that is rented for exclusive 24-hour, 7-days-a-week access between your location and another location. The highest speed data connections require a leased line.

By inserting hypertextual links into web documents it is possible to connect two documents together. These documents can be on different computers on opposite sides of the globe.

A family of programs that manages mailing lists by distributing messages posted to the list, adding and deleting members automatically.

local storage
Electronic data that is stored on the computer you are working on.

This term refers to information stored and viewed on your machine(local). As opposed to the information stored and viewed on other machines on the internet.

A noun or a verb. Noun: The account name used to gain access to a computer system. Unlike a password, the login name is not a secret. Verb: The act of entering into a computer system; for example, "Login to the WELL and then go to the GBN conference."


mail to
This enables email contact to be written into a web document.

A piece of e-mail or a posting to a newsgroup.

An FTP server that provides copies of the same files as another server. Some FTP servers are so popular that other servers have been set up to mirror them and spread the FTP load to more than one site.

MOdulator, DEModulator. A device that you connect to your computer and to a phone line to allow the computer to talk to other computers through the phone system. Modems convert the computer's digital signals into analog waves that can be transmitted over standard voice telephone lines. Modem speeds are measured in bits per second (bps)--also sometimes expressed as Kilobits (thousands of bits) per second. For example, 28.8 Kbps and 28,800 bps are the same thing--28,800 bits per second.

A Windows-based, WinSock-compliant program that lets you access information on the World Wide Web. Microsoft's version of Mosaic is called The Internet.


Net is an abbreviation for the term Internet with stands for Interconnected networks.

Netscape is a WWW browser. An application that allows you to search for information on the World Wide Web and now other services such as Newsgroups and e-mail. It is made by Netscape Communications Corp., formerly Mosaic Communications Corp., a company founded by many members of the original NCSA Mosaic programming team.netscape is free for Educational and Personal use.

Any time you connect two or more computers together so they can share resources, you have a computer network. Connect two or more networks together and you have an internet (small "i").

Network News Transfer Protocol. A protocol defined for distribution, inquiry, retrieval, and posting of news articles.

A distributed bulletin board system about a particular topic. Usenet News (also know as Netnews) is a system that distributes thousands of newsgroups to all parts of the Internet.

A computer on the Internet, also called a host. Computers that provide a service, such as FTP sites or places that run Gopher, are also called servers.


off line
This is working on a computer that is currently not connected to the Internet.

This is working on a computer that is currently connected to the Internet.


A chunk of information sent over a network. Each packet contains the destination address, the sender's address, error-control information, and data.

A document, or collection of information, available by way of the World Wide Web. To make information available over the WWW, it is organized into pages. A page may contain text, graphics, video, and/or sound files.

A network management tool that checks to see whether you can communicate with another computer on the Internet. It sends a short message to which the other computer automatically responds. If the other computer does not respond to the ping, you usually cannot establish communications.

Point of Presence. A physical site in a geographic area where a network access provider, such as UUNET, has equipment to which users connect. The local phone company's central office in a particular area is also sometimes referred to as their POP for that area. (As an example, AT&T's POP for the Seattle area is in downtown Seattle.)

Post Office Protocol. A system by which a mail server on the Internet lets you grab your mail and download it to your PC or Macintosh. Most people refer to this protocol with its version number (POP2, POP3, and so on) to avoid confusing it with Point of Presence.

posting up
To send a message to a discussion group or mailing list.

Point-to-Point Protocol. A scheme for connecting two computers over a phone line (or a network link that acts like a phone line). Similar to SLIP.

A language Computers use when talking to each other.



remote access
When you access a computer that you are unable to see. This is done via a modem or computer network.

screen resolution
The number of dots per square inch (dpi) displayed on a screen. The higher the number of dots, the better the resolution.

search engine
A software application found on-line which allows you to search for information, by key words, available on the Internet (e.g. web sites, newsgroups)

A computer that provides a service to other computers on a network. An Archie server, for example, lets people on the Internet use Archie.

service provider
A service provider is a company who supplies Internet services to personal users or business. Among other things they provide access to the Internet or somewhere to place Web Pages making them available to the WWW. You pay the service provider a set fee.

Similar to Java, bringing enhanced multimedia to the internet. ShockWave is a development tool created by the company Macromedia.
A site is the term given to a place where information can be found on the World Wide Web. (i.e. A web site)

Serial Line Interface Protocol. A software scheme for connecting a computer to the Internet.

When your computer is on the Internet via a SLIP connection, a socket is a conversation your computer is having with a computer elsewhere on the net. You may have one socket for an FTP session, another socket for a Telnet session, and another socket taking care of getting your mail.

Simple Mail Transfer Protocol A protocol used to transfer e-mail between computers.

Synchronous Communication

Communication that occurs at the same time, between two or more individuals, for e.g. telephone conversations, Internet Relay Chat, face-to-face communication


Simple Mail Transfer Protocol A protocol used to transfer e-mail between Transfer Control Protocol/Internet Protocol. The system that networks use to communicate with each other on the Internet.

The command and program used to login from one Internet site to another. The Telnet command/program gets you to the "login" prompt of another host.

A device that allows you to send commands to a computer somewhere else. At a minimum, this usually means a keyboard and a display screen and some simple circuitry. Usually you will use terminal software in a personal computer--the software pretends to be ("emulates") a physical terminal and allows you to type commands to a computer somewhere else.


A computer operating system (the basic software running on a computer, underneath things such as word processors and spreadsheets). UNIX is designed to be used by many people at the same time (it is "multiuser") and has TCP/IP built in. It is the most common operating system for servers on the Internet.

Uniform Resource Locator. The standard way to give the address of any resource on the Internet that is part of the World Wide Web (WWW). A URL looks like this: The most common way to use a URL is to enter into a Web browser program, such as Microsoft Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator.

An informal group of systems that exchange "news." USENET predates the Internet, but today, the Internet is used to transfer much of USENET's traffic.


Very Easy Rodent Oriented Net-wide Index to Computerized Archives. A program that uses word searches to locate articles in Gopherspace. Developed at the University of Nevada, Veronica is a constantly updated database of names of almost every menu item on thousands of Gopher servers. (See also: Gopher).

A program used by Gopher, WAIS, or WWW client programs to show files with contents other than text. You would use a viewer to display graphics or video files, or to play sound files.

Virtual Reality Markup Language. A standard by which the internet uses for delivering 3-dimensional virtual reality over the the Web.


Wide Area Network. Any internet or network that covers an area larger than a single building or campus. (See also: Internet, LAN, network)

World Wide Web
The newest and most ambitious of the special Internet services. The World Wide Web provides full text and graphical access to documents created using Hypertext Markup Language(HTML). It is the first Internet service that incorporates many of the most popular platforms (e-mail, Gopher, FTP, Wais, Newsgroups). Attributed to the world wide success of the Internet. Often abbreviated 'WWW'.

An abbreviated term for the World Wide Web.

Web document
Is a collection of information stored on the World Wide Web (WWW) which has the benefit of using hypertext links to link to other documents on the (WWW).

web site
A collection of html files, graphic files and any other file types that are supported by the World Wide Web that can be viewed by using a World Wide Web browser.

Windows Socket
(WinSock). Windows Sockets is a standard way for Windows-based programs to work with TCP/IP. You can use WinSock if you use SLIP to connect to the Internet.