Computerlexikon Englisch

Computer Terms


A mathematical symbol, meaning “only half of the real value,” as in 1/2 or PS/2 (OS/2???)

386? No, 486? Oops 568!

The only chip to consider if you’re buying a DOS machine. Until Intel ramps up the 686.


The average IQ needed to understand a PC.


The salary the average Wall Street PC analyst pulls in each year.


A catchy 1930 song by George and Ira Gershwin.


Date when a dozen copies of the beta version will be hurriedly shrink-wrapped for the benefit of the press and the investment community.


The chore you were really, honestly, going to do the very next thing before you switched drive letters and accidentally copied older, out-of-date versions of you files over all your newer ones at 3 a.m.


A word used to describe computers, as in “Our son’s computer cost quite a bit.”


What your friends give you because you spend too much time bragging about your computer skills.


The only other job – involving a chamois at the car wash – for which most computer store salespeople are qualified.


What your eyes do after you stare at the tiny green computer screen for more than 15 minutes. Also: what computer magazine companies do to you after they get your name on their mailing list.

Bundled software

Free applications like home dentistry packages and Esperanto spelling dictionaries that are thrown in with cheap clones so you think you’re getting real value for your money.


A $100 dollar mechanism in a $1,200 cabinet that accesses vast quantities of valuable information too slowly to use.


The fattening, non-nutritional food computer users eat to avoid having to leave their keyboards for meals.


What you have to do during school tests because you spend too much time at the computer and not enough time studying.

Copy protection

A sly technique employed by hardware vendors to combat software piracy by continually changing the size and compatibility of disk drives (from 160K to 320K to 360K to 1.2MB to 720K to 1.4MB, etc.).


An antiquated operation system from the early days of computing, based on inscrutable prompts like A>, terse commands, and absurdly backward conventions, such as 11-character limits on filenames. Contrasted with today’s modern versions of DOS.


What you turn into when you can’t get your computer to perform, as in “You $#% computer!”

Database, flat-file

A program selling for under $500 that most people use to keep lists of names and addresses, etc.

Database, relational/programmable

A program selling for over $500 that most people use to keep lists of names and addresses, etc.


The process of uncovering glitches by packaging prerelease software as software as finished products, then waiting for irate customers to report problems.


What goes out in your back after bending over a computer keyboard for seven hours at a clip.

Disk crash

A typical computer response to any critical deadline.

Downward compatibility

You really didn’t have to spend the money for the upgraded version, since all you use anyway is the old set of features.


The place all your former hobbies wind up soon after you install your computer.

End User

One born every minute.

Entry level

Only slightly above most users’ heads.


What you made the first time you walked into a computer showroom to “just look.”

Expanded memory

RAM that is, uh, well, um, different from extended memory.

Expansion slot

The computer didn’t come with everything you needed.

Expansion unit

The new room you have to build on to your home to house your computer and all its peripherals.

Extended memory 

RAM that is, uh, well, um, different from expanded memory.


Originally a last resort for procrastinators who missed the final Federal Express pickup; these days, an expensive way to order lunch from the pizza place around the corner.


What your secretary can now do to her nails six and a half hours a day, now that the computer does her day’s work in 30 minutes.


Software with permanent bugs hardwired into it.


  1. The condition of a constant computer user’s stomach due to lack of exercise and a steady diet of junk food (see Chips”).
  2. The state of your wallet after purchasing a computer.


Apple’s new Macs that make you say “Gee, three times faster than the computer I bought for the same price a Microsecond ago.”


What your computer becomes after spilling your coffee on it (pronounced “gooey”).

Hard drive 

The sales technique employed by computer salesmen, esp. after a Syntax Error.


Tools, such as lawnmowers, rakes and other heavy equipment you haven’t laid a finger on since getting your computer.


The kind of missile your family members and friends would like to drop on your computer so you’ll pay attention to them again.


One picture is worth a thousand lawsuits. Or, as Shakespeare might have put it, “He who steals my trash better have a large purse.

Installation routine 

A process employed by many applications to overwrite and thereby trash the user’s existing and painstakingly created AUTOEXEC.BAT and CONFIG.SYS files

Interface, character-based

A way of presenting information to the user that’s every bit as good as a user interface except in the areas of readability, ease of use, intuitiveness, and productivity.

Interface, graphic user (GUI) 

An increasingly popular way of presenting information to the user, originally designed by Xerox PARC and now being adopted by dozens of competitors; otherwise known as the Trial Attorney Full Employment Act.


The standard way to generate computer errors.


A dinky keyboard wedded to a lousy monochrome screen, all with bad battery life.

Live links

A clever system that lets you unknowingly corrupt data in lots of separate files at the same time.


The process of talking to a corporate press relations official. (Question: How many IBM PR types does it take to change a light bulb? Answer: We’ll have to get back to you on that.)


What you’ll never see again after buying a computer because you’ll be too poor to eat in a restaurant.


The time it takes for your state-of-the-art computer to become obsolete.


Often thought to be a word associated with computers, this word actually refers to those obnoxious kids who always want to see your hall pass at school.


An advanced input device to make computer errors easier to generate. (-> Keyboard)


The time it takes after your warranty expires for your hard disk to start making a sound like a monkey wrench in a blender.

NiCad battery 

A cell that powers a laptop long enough to let you do three solid hours of work, then dies before you’re ready to save any of it to disk.


Any computer you own.

Open system

Made up of parts from different manufacturers so that, when you crash, each vendor can blame the others.


It should have come free, but someone in the marketing department ran 1-2-3 and figured they’d double their profits this way.


A ninth memory bit that one time in nine will crash an otherwise perfectly functioning system when it detects an error in itself.


A wall you have to build around a noisy dot matrix printer that makes only slightly less noise than a tree chipper.


You mean you’d rather click on a menu choice than have to type things like DEVICE=\DOS\UTS\DRIVER.SYS /D:0 /T:80 /S:15 /H:2 /C /F:1?

Portable computer 

A device invented to force businessmen to work at home, on vacation, and on business trips.

Power Surge 

What an MIS director feels when he denies you access to your own database.

Power user

  • Anyone who can format a disk from DOS.
  • Someone who’s read the manual all the way through once.


Printing out 30 different versions of your document before getting the spacing correct.


Those things you used to look at on your television before you hooked your computer up to it.

Real-time clock

A 50-dollar option based on a five-cent chip.


What lots of people do with their computers after only a week and a half.


Silly And Awkward.


A clumsy program that forces users to stumble through ten menus to get anything done in DOS instead of typing a simple three-character command.


Make sure you’re sitting down when you ask the price.


Sophisticated software that can be used as a database, rudimentary word processor, graphing program, and, in a pinch, a ledger.


The place in the corner of the room where you pile unopened software manuals.


Manufactured by the company that does the flashiest advertising.


Any computer you can’t afford.


Fast, simple, courteous, friendly, accurate help available to any user who happens to work for any company that bought 1,000 copies of the product.

Syntax error

Walking into a computer store and saying, “Hi, I want to buy a computer and money is no object.”

System update 

A quick method of trashing ALL of your software.


A place where you can find buses, trains and really good deals on hot computers.


What you feel like doing with your foot and your computer screen after you see the message “General Failure Error Reading Drive C:”.

Toll-free hotline 

An AT&T busy-signal test number.

Toner cartridge

A device to refill laser printers; invented by the Association of American Dry Cleaners.

Torture test

Everyone-from the UPS guy to the clerk who opened the box to the intern who executed the speed test-accidentally dropped it.


A program that forces you to sit through lessons on every last obscure and little-used feature of an application while ignoring overall fundamental tricks that would make you far more productive.

Unix, year of 

See Calendar, perpetual.


A lot more expensive.


Commonly, the belief of incompetent users that some mysterious external force is to blame for their mistakes at the keyboard.


What you heave the computer out of after you accidentally erase a program that took you three days to set up.


Any PC that sells for more than $10,000.


All the computer that most users who just type letters and run typical spreadsheets will ever need, even though a 386 machine will reformat their text a whole tenth of a second faster.

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