Skip to main content

Questions tagged [terminology]

For questions about words, phrases and definitions that are specific to classic computers and gaming systems.

Filter by
Sorted by
Tagged with
4 votes
1 answer
277 views

What is R register and DRAM refresh internal operation

Resources say that R value gets incremented by Z80 after each M-cycle, and that R is used in Dynamic RAM refresh mechanism (avoiding charge leakage). My questions: how concrete value of R (say, #11) ...
Max's user avatar
  • 285
10 votes
2 answers
1k views

What other terms have been used to describe storing working data permanently besides "save"?

Today, we "save" the file we're working on to disk. This terminology appears to be specific to architectures combining volatile and non-volatile memory. I also distinctly remember a "...
Therac's user avatar
  • 753
11 votes
2 answers
496 views

A kind of modem that let you make voice calls with a simultaneous data connection: what was it called?

I recall in the early 90s a type of modem (for analog phone lines) that let you conduct a voice call while maintaining a data connection. It sent bursts of data during the natural silences in ...
Tankboy's user avatar
  • 111
12 votes
3 answers
2k views

What is the technical definition of "clone" that makes the K1810VM88 (К1810ВМ88) not a clone of the 8088?

The Clueless Engineer YouTube channel posted a video yesterday exploring a Soviet K1810VM88 CPU he got from Ukraine. Apparently he originally used the wording in the video title that the K1810VM88 was ...
hippietrail's user avatar
  • 6,654
10 votes
2 answers
3k views

Terminology of what is termed "CPU" and what is "computer"

In PDP-11/20 the block KA11 is termed "CPU". It is intended to be inserted into a rack. In PDP-11/05 on the other hand a similar block is termed "computer" even though it also is ...
Anixx's user avatar
  • 1,547
1 vote
1 answer
310 views

What are hobbyists? [closed]

In An Open Letter to Hobbyists, Bill Gates reprimanded hobbyists that pirated his software. But what were hobbyists? What was the difference between a hobbyist and a user?
robertspierre's user avatar
5 votes
2 answers
5k views

What does it mean to "publish machine code"?

The Wikipedia article on “An Open Letter to Hobbysts” says that Bill Gates complained about hobbyists pirating his software, and due to piracy he refused to publish the machine code of his Altair ...
robertspierre's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
494 views

Name of Commodore tape format?

How did Commodore call their tape format, if there ever was a specific name for it? OK, let me clarify. I would be interested in the technical term of the encoding as well as any specific name, should ...
bugjam's user avatar
  • 31
16 votes
4 answers
3k views

What is the earliest computer technology to be referred to as "Artificial Intelligence"?

It seems that in recent years, when people talk about "AI", they are usually referring to neural net-based technologies (ChatGPT being the most well known example at the moment). But ...
T Hummus's user avatar
  • 261
15 votes
3 answers
3k views

Difference between machine language and machine code, maybe in the C64 community?

I've always been sure that "machine language" and "machine code" are totally synonymous and mean programming directly in the language the machine understands, whether in binary, ...
hippietrail's user avatar
  • 6,654
16 votes
7 answers
4k views

Difference between program and application [closed]

When I started learning about computers in the mid nineties, all books used the word program to reference any executable that ran under MS-DOS (.exe, .com, .bat). Applications was a math concept, at ...
user10191234's user avatar
  • 1,945
11 votes
0 answers
235 views

Anyone know of older mentions of the word "trap" for software interrupts than the IBM 704 manual from 1955?

I've dug into the origin of the word "trap" in computer engineering. The older documented mentions of the term I can find, is the "trapping mode" in the IBM 704, specifically in ...
BipedalJoe's user avatar
14 votes
1 answer
1k views

Intel "Kernel processor" or "OS Kernel"

I used to have an Intel data book from 1981. I gave it away to a friend, and he probably also lost it along the way. In this book there was a data sheet for a component called "OS Kernel" or ...
chthon's user avatar
  • 700
59 votes
7 answers
6k views

Origin of "string"

When did people start referring to an ordered group of characters as a "string"? Did this name come from before / outside of the computing field, or is it special to computing? The metaphor ...
John Skiles Skinner's user avatar
66 votes
10 answers
15k views

When was the term ‘directory’ replaced by ‘folder’?

I started using computers with MS-DOS and as far as I can remember the data structure holding files was called a directory (it held other directories as well), DIR is still used to list the content of ...
user10191234's user avatar
  • 1,945
29 votes
4 answers
5k views

Why was the "Space-cadet keyboard" called that?

Many of us have heard of the so-called "Space-cadet keyboard" from 1978 (famous for including a mind-boggling number of modifier keys including control, meta, hyper, super, shift, top, front,...
Robert Columbia's user avatar
39 votes
3 answers
5k views

Why are assemblers called assemblers?

We tend use the term assembler as if there is a fundamental implication of being different from a compiler. This disparity is usually taken as a fact, no matter how sophisticated or primitive either ...
Raffzahn's user avatar
  • 225k
3 votes
2 answers
471 views

Is there an established name for this group of CPUs?

There is a group of 8-bit CPUs, starting with the Datapoint 2200, which includes the Intel 8080 and 8085, the Z80, the LR35902, the KR580VM1, the Rabbit 2000, and others. It seems like an obvious ...
Omar and Lorraine's user avatar
40 votes
3 answers
12k views

What was the first operating system to be called an "operating system"?

According to Wikipedia, the first operating system was GM-NAA I/O, produced in 1956 by General Motors' Research division for its IBM 704. According to Merriam-Webster and Etymonline, the term "...
hippietrail's user avatar
  • 6,654
10 votes
1 answer
603 views

What's the story behind IBM's SKU numbers?

Big Blue IBM seemingly since forever is using a fixed numbering scheme for all their parts, where every little thing, dingus and gizmo is labeled with the so-called IBM SKU#. It's always in the form: ...
Micropolis's user avatar
23 votes
2 answers
4k views

What is a "sympathetic bit"?

I am reading about BIOS in Phil Storrs PC Hardware book: What happens when we turn on a PC ? Next comes the incremental check of all the RAM memory. The RAM memory is written to, and read from, with ...
Flux's user avatar
  • 531
29 votes
2 answers
8k views

Correct pronunciation of `vi` (Unix editor)?

According to this video with Brian Kernighan, the correct pronunciation of the classical Unix editor ed is "Eee. Dee." — not "Edd". So that made me wonder — what about the other ...
Baard Kopperud's user avatar
58 votes
4 answers
8k views

Why is slash so commonly used in old systems' abbreviations?

Many things around the '80s or earlier use ‘/’ in their abbreviations and sometimes even in their names, for example IBM PS/2, OS/2 and PS/2 port CP/M - MP/M - PL/M - PL/I - PL/S - PL/8 along with CP/...
phuclv's user avatar
  • 3,602
22 votes
3 answers
8k views

Where did the term ‘blue screen of death’ come from?

Did somebody famous coin the term? Where does it originate from? I have it heard many times over the years. I wonder if there is a neat bit of trivia associated with the term?
Neil Meyer's user avatar
  • 6,869
47 votes
6 answers
8k views

What is a Dumb Terminal?

There seems to be some confusion what a 'Dumb' terminal is as visible in answers and comments to this question about portable dumb terminals. So: What is a Dumb Terminal? Points that would help to ...
Raffzahn's user avatar
  • 225k
31 votes
4 answers
6k views

What are the "virtual machines" that were running on 80386 and later x86 CPUs before full hardware virtualization?

When reading techy articles about older Windows versions I often come across the term "Virtual machine". Apparently even Windows 3.11 had some sort of virtual-machine-thing going on in it, ...
Vilx-'s user avatar
  • 1,485
6 votes
3 answers
748 views

Did Intel syntax for x86 assembly come from an Intel assembler?

I'm wondering where the so-called Intel syntax for x86 assembly came from. Did Intel release their own assembler for chips like the 8086 or do we just mean the syntax they used in the manuals?
Anthony's user avatar
  • 455
8 votes
4 answers
4k views

Is "component video" synonymous with "RGB"?

Before asking this, I read the Wikipedia article. I've been confused about this for many, many years. I'd like to finally get it straightened out. What exactly is the difference between "RGB"...
Alexy's user avatar
  • 97
44 votes
4 answers
6k views

Was the term "master" in source code management systems first used with the sense of master/replica or master/slave?

In recent years there has been a push by some to move away from using the term "master" in source code management systems, often by renaming the "master" branch to a "main&...
curiousdannii's user avatar
17 votes
1 answer
2k views

In what year did term "program" first appear in the meaning of "series of coded instructions"?

I'm trying to figure out year when the term "program" was firstly used is the meaning ‘a series of coded instructions which directs a computer in carrying out a specific task’. Additionally ...
No Name QA's user avatar
12 votes
1 answer
669 views

Who called it "microchip" first?

We all know how Kilby at TI and Noyce at Fairchild invented the integrated circuit. But who called it microchip? Chip?
chx's user avatar
  • 1,041
8 votes
2 answers
2k views

What does it mean to byte swap or split a ROM image?

I'd like to understand: What does it mean to "byte swap" when burning kickstart or extended ROMs? Is it the same as "splitting" the ROM? How is it done and why?
Bartek Malysz's user avatar
10 votes
2 answers
866 views

What's a good term for "instruction cycle count-accurate" emulation / simulation?

Emulation is called cycle-accurate if the original system's cycle-synchronous behaviour is fully captured; for example, a cycle-accurate emulation of a CPU, executing an instruction, would first ...
Cactus's user avatar
  • 2,750
14 votes
2 answers
2k views

Origin of "arithmetic" and "logical" for signed and unsigned shifts

The assembly language for many processors use the phrase "arithmetic shift" to represent the bitwise shift of a signed value, and "logical shift" for an unsigned value. The two ...
DrSheldon's user avatar
  • 16.3k
40 votes
8 answers
12k views

Why is EEPROM called ROM if it can be written to?

Is there a historical reason? Since it is rewritable it isn't read only by definition, so why call it so?
Michael Stachowsky's user avatar
16 votes
3 answers
3k views

When was the phrase "sufficiently smart compiler" first used?

In discussions and arguments about programming language design, one often hears comments about "sufficiently smart" compilers, as in "X needn't be inefficient, since a sufficiently ...
texdr.aft's user avatar
  • 3,617
12 votes
2 answers
996 views

What was the earliest use of |> pipe in programming?

I am trying to find which language used the |> operator first. It's being discussed for use in R, and it's been in OCaml for some years. Did it originate in OCaml? If not, what are its earliest ...
stevec's user avatar
  • 259
46 votes
2 answers
5k views

Why are paddles called paddles?

A paddle is a sort of input device, common on early video game consoles and home computers, consisting of a handheld wheel with one or more fire buttons. Unlike dial boxes, which spin freely, paddles ...
Psychonaut's user avatar
  • 7,661
23 votes
3 answers
5k views

Distinction between scientific and business computing

Wikipedia's page on the IBM System/360 family claims that a distinction once existed between business and scientific computers. The model 44 in particular was designed for scientific work and was set ...
Q3El58's user avatar
  • 333
8 votes
2 answers
13k views

What does "ByteSwapped" and "BigEndian" refer to in the context of video game ROMs?

I have found two different sets of Nintendo 64 ROMs with the same games (which, of course, I physically own). One is labeled "ByteSwapped" and the other "BigEndian". What exactly ...
Aston Melchin's user avatar
2 votes
2 answers
430 views

What is a 4002's "RAM Status Character"?

I was looking at this emulator of a Intel 4004, and I noticed something with the RAM. It had something called "Status Chars". There were 4 of them per memory line and all were 4-bit numbers ...
Nip Dip's user avatar
  • 341
23 votes
4 answers
3k views

Where did the the term "chrome," referring to onscreen decorations, originate?

To most people today "chrome" probably sounds like a reference to the web browser; but at least in Microsoft contexts I've read "chrome" to refer to window decorations - like the ...
StayOnTarget's user avatar
  • 3,856
12 votes
1 answer
399 views

When was the term Multics (operating system) coined and by whom?

From the history of Multics, I found that Project MAC was established on July 1, 1963 by MIT for the development of the Multics operating system and later GE (General Electric) and AT&T's Bell ...
Pandya's user avatar
  • 683
7 votes
1 answer
354 views

When was term "word" first used as reference to CPU max register size

I've tried to find information when term 'word' was firstly used. And it seems that even ENIAC used this term. Is it safe to say that term 'word' was invented with ENIAC?
No Name QA's user avatar
61 votes
19 answers
19k views

Why were computer customers called "Users"?

The term User for computer hardware and software customers has been universal for as long as I can remember. It has always applied to both hardware and software customers - There were "Lotus Users" ...
Brian H's user avatar
  • 60.8k
7 votes
3 answers
5k views

What are D64, T64, D71 and D81 files?

The docs for the Ultimate-II+ expansion cartridge for the Commodore 64 state: It is able to read D64 files, as well as D71 and D81 files (no partitions), T64 files. So what are D64, T64, D71 and D81 ...
chicks's user avatar
  • 397
11 votes
1 answer
239 views

In TRS-80 parlance when talking about disks, what are "granules" and "lumps"?

In my reading to try to learn about the disk layout, directory, and boot process of TRS-80 Model I and Model III, I see some unusual words come up again and again. Along with the common terms "track" ...
hippietrail's user avatar
  • 6,654
4 votes
2 answers
2k views

What was a "Windows protection error"?

Back in the day, I had a Windows 98 machine (don't recall the hardware right now) and sometimes it would crash with the "Windows protection error. You need to restart your computer" error. So, what ...
Renan's user avatar
  • 737
5 votes
1 answer
399 views

What did "double track" mean in relation to floppy disks?

I mostly used 3½″ floppies back in the day but I also used 5¼″ floppies to some extent on Apple II's and TRS-80's. I was never exposed to 3″ floppy disks as used mainly on Amstrad microcomputers and ...
hippietrail's user avatar
  • 6,654
13 votes
4 answers
2k views

Is it a Directory, a List, or a Catalogue?

There are three common CLI commands on microcomputers that all mean the same thing: "Show me the contents of a volume, disk, or sub-directory". I will mention that the noun "Catalogue", and the ...
Brian H's user avatar
  • 60.8k