The Computer Expert’s Glossary


Something you need to know the name of to be an Expert in Computing. Useful in sentences like, “We had better develop an ADA awareness.”


An elusive creature living in a program that makes it incorrect. The activity of “debugging,” or removing bugs from a program, ends when people get tired of doing it, not when the bugs are removed.


A very expensive part of the memory system of a computer that no one is supposed to know is there.


What you regret not doing later on.


Instructions translated from Swedish by Japanese for English speaking persons.

Economies of scale

The notion that bigger is better. In particular, that if you want a certain amount of computer power, it is much better to buy one biggie than a bunch of smallies. Accepted as an article of faith by people who love big machines and all that complexity. Rejected as an article of faith by those who love small machines and all those limitations.


The parts of a computer system that can be kicked.

Information Center

A room staffed by professional computer people whose job it is to tell you why you cannot have the information you require.

Information Processing

What you call data processing when people are so disgusted with it they won’t let it be discussed in their presence.

Machine-independent program

A program that will not run on any machine.


An assembly of computer experts coming together to decide what person or department not represented in the room must solve the problem.


A computer that can be afforded on the budget of a middle-level manager.

Office Automation

The use of computers to improve efficiency in the office by removing anyone you would want to talk with over coffee.


The idea that a human being should always be accessible to a computer.


A programming language named after a man who would turn over in his grave if he knew about it.


A statement of the speed at which a computer system works. Or rather, might work under certain circumstances. Or was rumored to be working over in Jersey about a month ago.


A statement of the importance of a user or program. Often expressed as a relative priority, indicating that the user doesn’t care when the work is completed so long as he is treated less badly than someone else.

Quality control

Assuring that the quality of a product does not get out of hand and add to the cost of its manufacture or design.

Regression analysis

Mathematical techniques for trying to understand why things are getting worse.


A long-range plan whose merit cannot be evaluated until sometime after those creating it have left the organization.

Systems programmer

An unshaven person in trainers who has been in the elevator with the senior vice president and is ultimately responsible for a phone call you are to receive from your boss. (my favorite!)

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