Computer Terminology - I

This web page looks at some of the terminology associated with the Computer Industry. This appendix is not to be deemed as complete but does cover a large range of common terminology.

If you find a term not covered in this file you may Email Button and list the word (computer connected terminology ONLY). We will endeavour to locate the meaning and respond to you. If we consider it a common enough term, we will add it to our list. New terminology (with explanation) may also be submitted for consideration.

Index SIZE Numeric A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

I/O port: Input-Output port. A connector that allows you to connect peripherals to a computer system. The two most common types of 1/0 ports are serial and parallel.

I/O request packet, or IRP: A data structure used in an operating system to communicate with a kernel-mode device driver. Click Here for detailed explanation

IC: Integrated Circuit. Also called chip.

icon: A small graphic image that represents a file or application and when clicked upon produces a programmed result. Use of this mnemonic convention originated at Xerox PARC and was subsequently popularized by the Apple Macintosh. Producing an effective icon is non-trivial because of size and color restraints. See iconographer.

iconographer: A skillful designer who elevates icon design to an art form.

ID3 Tag: The utilisation of 128 bytes within a sound file (specificially of type MP3) to carry background information about the file such as its name.

IDE: Integrated Drive Electronics. A disk interface standard based on the IBM PC ISA 16 bit bus but also used on other personal computers. The IDE specification deals with the power and data signal interfaces between the motherboard and the integrated disk controller and drive.

identity hacking: Posing as someone else. Posting anonymously or pseudonymously, usually with the intent to deceive.

IMHO: Abbreviation for In My Humble Opinion.

inbox: A folder where you receive incoming mail.

infobahn: A variant of information superhighway.

information superhighway: An unimplemented proposal by Vice President Al Gore to wire the US for hundreds of cable television channels. Now synonymous with the Internet.

Infoseek: An Internet search engine at

Input: Data that goes into a computer device.

install: To load and configure a piece of software on a computer.

Integrated Services Digital Network: (abbreviation: ISDN) A technology offered by telephone carriers that allows for the rapid transfer of voice and data.

Interface: The interconnections that allow a device, a programme, or a person to interact. Hardware interfaces are the cables that connect the device to its power source and to other devices. Software interfaces allow the programme to communicate with other programmes (such as the operating system), and user interfaces allow the user to communicate with the programme (eg., via mouse, menu commands, icons, voice commands, etc.).

Interrupt: A signal from part of a system asking to use the CPU. Interrupts are hierarchical, which prevents interrupts from interrupting each other. (Whichever interrupt has higher priority makes the other interrupt wait.) When the CPU receives an interrupt signal, it saves what it is doing, processes the routine associated with the interrupt, then returns to what it was doing.

Internet: A worldwide network of networks that all use the TCP/IP communications protocol and share a common address space. First incarnated as the ARPANET in 1969, the Internet has metamorphosed from a military internetwork to an academic research internetwork to the current commercial internetwork. It commonly supports services such as email, the World Wide Web, file transfer, and Internet Relay Chat. The Internet is experiencing tremendous growth in the number of users, hosts, and domain names. It is gradually subsuming other media, such as proprietary computer networks, newspapers, books, television, and the telephone. Also known as "the net", "the information superhighway", and "cyberspace". See also ARPANET, domain, and Domain Name Service.

Internet Explorer: A free web browser application from Microsoft.

Internet Relay Chat: (abbreviation: IRC) A chat network that operates over the Internet. Originally evolved from the UNIX talk program, IRC is similar to the chat systems found on commercial online services.

Internet Service Provider: (abbreviation: ISP) 1. A business that delivers access to the Internet, usually for a monthly fee. PSI, UUNET, and Netcom are examples of established ISPs but there are thousands of smaller ones all around the world.
2. Any business that provides Internet services such as web sites or web site development.

Internet Society: (abbreviation: ISOC) To quote its home page at "The Internet Society is a non-governmental International organization for global cooperation and coordination for the Internet and its internetworking technologies and applications. The Society's individual and organizational members are bound by a common stake in maintaining the viability and global scaling of the Internet. They comprise the companies, government agencies, and foundations that have created the Internet and its technologies as well as innovative new entrepreneurial organizations contributing to maintain that dynamic."

InterNIC: The InterNIC is the entity that controls the registration of most domain names on the Internet. The InterNIC is a cooperative activity between the National Science Foundation, Network Solutions, Inc. and AT&T. Its home page is at

interoperability: The ability of software and hardware on multiple machines from multiple vendors to communicate meaningfully.

intranet: A private network that uses Internet-related technologies to provide services within an organization.

IP: Internet Protocol.

IP address: A string of four numbers separated by periods (such as used to represent a computer on the Internet. The format of the address is specified by the Internet Protocol in RFC 791. When a PC accesses the Internet through an ISP, it sometimes receives a temporary IP address.

IRC: See Internet Relay Chat.

IrDA stands for Infrared Data Association, which is the organisation responsible for setting the standards of Infrared Communications in computers and other technology. You may find out more about this organisation from their web site at IrDA

IRP: See I/O request packet

IRQ: Interrupt Request. A signal, that when received by the CPU, makes it stop what it is doing to do something else.

ISDN: See Integrated Services Digital Network.

ISOC: See Internet Society.

ISP: See Internet Service Provider.

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