If you are a senior citizen, you may have looked into getting a computer in the past or you may own one now. But sometimes it seems like you have to understand a whole new language in order to use your computer. There are so many computer terms out there that it can be a major chore just to research one to purchase. But computer terminology isn’t nearly as complicated as it seems. Here is a glossary of some of the most common computer terms and exactly what they mean – all in non-computer language.
The Types of Computers Available
Desktop: a desktop computer is one with a separate tower, monitor, keyboard and mouse.
Laptop: a laptop computer, on the other hand, incorporates the keyboard, mouse, tower and monitor all-in-one. They can usually fit on your lap which is why they are called laptops.
Notebook: a notebook computer is a full-sized laptop.
Netbook: a netbook computer is a laptop that is about half the size or smaller of a notebook.
Mobile Device: a mobile device is anything smaller than a laptop or netbook that has a mobile operating system and allows you to carry it easily. Tablets and smartphones are two common examples.
Tablet: a tablet is a flat, touchscreen computer that works on a mobile operating system such as Android or IOS. An iPad is a tablet computer as are newer Kindles.
Smartphone: a smartphone is a mobile phone that has a mobile operating system allowing you to install apps, access the Internet via a browser as well as make and receive calls and texts.
Macintosh: a Macintosh or Mac computer – sometimes called an Apple – is simply a computer made by the Apple Company with their operating system.
Personal Computer (PC): a computer running other operating systems like Windows.
The Components of a Computer
Tower: the main part of a desktop computer. It usually looks like a thin box.
Motherboard: the main circuit board inside of the computer tower or laptop casing.
Processor/CPU: the component responsible for all of the operations that a computer does. Examples are Intel and AMD central processing units.
Graphics Card: a computer component that allows you to see the visual display. Higher-end graphics cards allow for better video and higher resolution.
Sound Card: the component of your computer that controls and allows sound.
Trackpad: the mouse that is built into laptop and netbook computers.
RAM/Memory: a component of your computer that temporarily stores data. The more temporary data you can store at once, the better your computer performs.
Hard Drive: the component of your computer that allows for the permanent saving of data such as documents, pictures and video.
Operating System: the operating system or OS is what controls your computer. Windows is an example of an operating system.
Miscellaneous Related Terms
Flash Drive: a flash drive or thumb drive is a small rectangular storage device that plugs into a USB port and stores data.
SD Card: a thin data storage device that is used with computers and tablets and come in a smaller size for smart phones.
Browser: the application used to access the internet – for example: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome.
3G/4G Internet: A type of Internet that comes with mobile devices that is accessible from anywhere and doesn’t require a Wi-Fi connection.