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Telecommunications Dictionary
(C) Copyright 1991 R. Scott Perry
Version 1.00
Last Update: 8/15/91

"What is this, why, and who is this guy?"

I feel that this dictionary fills a major void. In my years
of using BBS's, I have never seen such a dictionary. The closest
thing I've seen was a text file that had about 40 words listed.
These words included "RAM" "ROM" "Microcomputer" "Telex" and a
bunch of other words that aren't really that important to under-
stand telecommunications. I've seen some books about telecommu-
nications in bookstores, but they tend to be expensive ($15-$25),
and I don't recall seeing any dictionaries of telecommunications
terms. Many terms are easy to confuse, and it can be very diffi-
cult to find definitions for these terms. I hope that this
dictionary can be used as a good source of reference in these

Why do I feel qualified to write a dictionary such as this?
I bought my first modem almost 6 years ago, and have been using
computers for twice as long. Not only have I used many different
computers and modems, I have seen the days where 1200bps BBS's
were rare, and most people had 300bps modems. And, for about a
year I ran my own BBS, which was quite successful at the time.
While I only had about 150K of storage for messages and files, I
was able to get over 500 users in that year.


Note 1: It was difficult to decide what words to include, and
what words not to include. Why did I not include remote digital
loop-back, but include PSK? I tried to include every term relat-
ing to computer telecommunications that the average user needs to
know, or might come across and be curious about. Some words are
easily found in manuals for modems (such as PSK) but are hard to
find definitions for. I tried to include as many of these as

Note 2: Since there are so many words defined here, and many of
them are complex and easily misunderstood, I wouldn't be sur-
prised if there are a couple errors of some sort. I tried to be
as careful as I could, but it is possible that there may be some
mistakes. If you notice any mistakes, or have suggestions of
words to add (or take out), feel free to write to me.

Note 3: There are approximately 430 words listed.


Remember, this is not public domain, but it's not shareware
either. It is copyrighted. All I'm saying is that you can't
change it. I have spent countless hours compiling the words,
figuring out what some of the words REALLY mean, and defining the
words. You MAY freely make copies (as a computer file, printed,
or in any other manner) for anyone you know, just so long as you
do not charge money for it.

Any BBS may have this dictionary available for downloading,
on the condition that users do not have to pay any money in order
to receive it.

In the case of DISTRIBUTERS who sell public domain and
shareware type programs for a nominal fee, I grant you permission
to distribute this dictionary given 2 conditions: [1] You send
me a notice of some sort notifying me that you are going to be
distributing this dictionary, and [2] you do not modify the file
in any way. Send the notice to the address given below.

If you SELL any products (such as communications programs or
modems), and wish to distribute this dictionary with your
product(s), you MUST get my permission first. In most cases, if
your product is legitimate, I would expect to grant permission.
Send requests to the address listed below.

If you wish to QUOTE this dictionary in any media, such as
in an article for a computer magazine, you must get my permission
first (the address is listed below). Again, I would expect to
grant permission. Non-profit computer groups don't have to get
my permission, as long as proper credit is listed.

If you felt this dictionary was very USEFUL, and you think
that you would have paid money for it if it was in book form, I'd
appreciate any donation. You are in no way obligated to do so,
but if you found this dictionary very useful, and you can afford
to part with a couple bucks, it would make me feel great. I'd
recommend $5, but anything is fine. If you don't feel you can
afford anything, but felt the dictionary was useful, a note of
praise would make me feel good too.

"How do I reach the author?"

Send any comments/suggestions/donations/notices/etc. to:

R. Scott Perry
178 Morton Street
Newton Centre, MA 02159

I hope you enjoy this dictionary!

Notes about the entries
----- ----- --- -------

* [Also called ] means that there are more than one word
for a certain concept. Do not bother looking at , it will
just refer you back to the original entry

* [See also ] at the end of a definition refers you to
more information or an entry that may help you understand the
original entry better. Also, opposites of words will often refer
to one another.

* See appearing directly after the term indicates that
the definition is the same as , and you should look there.

* BBS is used generically to denote any service that you can call
up with your computer, whether it is a bulletin board or a pay

* Note that many words have more than one definition- some that
pertain to telecommunications and some that don't. Definitions
that do not relate to telecommunications will not be listed.

* Some entries refer to computers in general, but an understand-
ing of them is sometimes needed to understand other entries.

The Dictionary
--- ----------


8N1 - The most common modem set-up. [See also format].

0004-0000-00345-4 - The stock number for "How to Identify and
Resolve Radio-TV Interference Problems," as listed in almost all
manuals for hardware. If you want a copy, write to: US Govern-
ment Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402.

103 - Officially, `Bell 103' which is the standard controlling
transmission at 300 baud. It was created by AT&T. [See also

202 - The mode used by the Applecat modem and CATFUR.

212A - Officially, `Bell 212A' which is the standard controlling
transmission at 1200 baud. It was created by AT&T. [See also

300 bps (baud) - A transmission speed that is quickly becoming
outdated (though most modems will allow communication at the
speed) that is roughly equal to 30 characters per second.

1200 bps (baud) - In the mid 1980's this was the most common
transmission speed, until 2400 baud became popular/cheaper. It
is roughly equal to 120 characters per second.

2400 bps (baud) - A fairly high-speed transmission speed that
towards the end of the 1980's gained popularity. It is roughly
equal to 240 characters per second.

3400 hertz - The highest pitch that a telephone line will trans-
mit. This cutoff limits the ways in which computers can communi-
cate over telephone lines.

9600 bps (baud) - At this time, the fastest transmission speed
available for commercial modems.


abort - [1] The command word used with editors that allows you to
exit, destroying your message. [2] The character used to stop
characters from a block of text appearing on your screen. Usual-
ly the spacebar or CTRL-X are used to abort a message.

access - [1] (verb) This is when someone is using a BBS with
their computer. "My boss was accessing a BBS bulletin board when
he was interrupted by the doorbell." [2] (noun) Refers to an
intangible amount (usually represented by a security level or
flags) that indicate to what extent you are allowed to use a BBS.
When used in a term such as `you will be granted access', it
means the amount of access that new users will generally receive.

account - A term that refers to information that a BBS has about
you. It is usually referred to by an ID number or your name.
The information it contains can include any information that you
have at some point given the BBS, usually including your name and
phone number. [See also ID number].

account number - See ID number.

ACK - A character (CTRL-F) that acknowledges something, usually
that a certain amount of data has been received correctly. [See
also NAK].

acoustic coupler - A cradle in which you would place the handset
of a phone. This would be connected to a modem, and the modem
would access the phone line through this coupler. Modern modems
connect directly to the phone line.

acoustic modem - A modem that uses an acoustic coupler. [See
also acoustic coupler].

alias - A name that users can use on a bulletin board that is not
their own. Aliases are usually used by young BBS users and those
who pirate software or do other illegal activities. Some exam-
ples of aliases are `Cracker Kid', `Starbuck', and `Midnight

Killer'. [Also called handle].

ampersand - A character (&) that usually means `and'.

analog - As far as electronic signals are concerned, analog
refers to signals that can represent an infinite range of num-
bers, as opposed to digital which can only be distinct whole
numbers. Analog data often comes from measurements. The sound a
modem makes over the phone is analog since it can be any number
of different frequencies. [See also digital].

anonymous - Refers to an author of a message that is unknown. On
some BBS's you are allowed to post anonymous messages so that
others won't know who you are. The SysOp usually can find out
who the author is, however.

ANSI - This is a mode that some BBS's use to send graphic charac-
ters to communications programs. It uses the escape character
followed by other characters, which allow movement of the cursor
on the screen, a change of color, and more.

answering computer - This is usually the BBS or mainframe. In
any case, it is the computer that being called. [See also origi-
nating computer].

answer frequency - The frequency that a modem uses when it has
been called by another computer. [See also originate frequency].

answer mode - The condition in which a modem is ready to answer
the phone when it rings and prepare to connect with another
modem. All BBS's are in answer mode. [See also originate mode].

apostrophe - The character '. It is usually used in contractions
of words, such as "don't".

append - To add to. Some BBS's allow you to add text from anoth-
er message to the message you are posting.

ARC - When a filename has the extension ARC, it means that it is
an archive compressed with the program PKARC. To get the files
out of the archive, you need to use the program PKXARC. You
should be able to find this program on many BBS's. [See also
archive, unarchive].

archive - [noun] A group of programs that are together, usually
compressed, in one file. [verb] the process of combining those
files. There are a number of software packages which will com-
press files into an archive, and most BBS's have programs that
are archived with one of these software packages. [See also
unarchive, compress, ZIP, ARC, PAK, LZH].

area code - The 3-digit number used by the telephone company to
designate a geographic area. Each state in the United States has
1 or more area codes. If you call a phone number in a different
area code, you must use the area code before the phone number.
If you call a number within your area code, you just dial the
phone number (if it is long distance within your area code, you
must dial "1" and then the number).

ASCII - An acronym for American Standard Code of Information
Interchange. It uses 7 bits to represent all uppercase and
lowercase characters, as well as numbers and many characters and
punctuation marks. ASCII often uses 8 bits in the form of bytes
and ignores the first bit. [See also EBCDIC].

ASCII transfer - When a text file is sent directly as it is,
without any special codes.

asterisk - The character *.

asynchronous communication - This is when the beginning and end
of each byte that is sent over the phone lines is marked somehow.
This way, if there is line noise, the modem can find out right
away where the next byte should start. [See also synchronous

at sign - The character @. Often read as 'at'.

AT&T - American Telegraph and Telephone, the inventors of the
first modem.

attended mode - This is the mode that a communications program is
in while you are operating it. [See also unattended mode].

audio monitor - A speaker that is part of the modem and allows
you to listen to whatever sound is on the phone line. This is
often used to hear busy signals or make sure that the other modem
picks up the carrier.

auto-answer - When a modem has the ability to automatically pick
up the phone when the phone rings and attempt to connect with
another computer.

auto-baud detect - The ability of a modem to change to a lower
bps rate if the computer it is calling is unable to communicate
at the requested speed.

auto-dial - When a modem is capable of dialing a phone number, so
that you don't have to dial manually.

auto-download - The feature of some file transfer protocols where
a BBS can automatically cause a communications program to start a
download or upload. This saves some time for the user, who would
otherwise have to set up his program to upload or download.

auto-kill - A feature on some BBS's that will delete a message on
a board if a certain threshold limit is reached. For example, a
BBS might delete the second message on a board if there are
already 100 messages and someone posts another message.

auto-redial - A feature that allows a modem or a term program to
dial a number again after it finds out that the number is busy.
This is very handy when trying to get through to popular bulletin
boards that are often busy.

auto-reply - To send a message (either public or private) immedi-
ately after reading a message on a BBS. Usually, this is used to
respond to the author of the message.

auto-save - The ability of a terminal program to save information
that it receives from BBS on disk that it was originally storing
in memory. This way, if there is more information than will fit
in the buffer, it will not be lost.

auto-syncing driver - This is part of a BBS program that automat-
ically determines the bps rate of a caller. [See also manual-
syncing driver].


backdoor - A way of getting into a BBS and getting full access,
without using a regular account. Usually the author of the BBS
program built the backdoor into the program so that he could get
access to any BBS running his software.

backslash - The character \.

backspace - The character (CTRL-H) that causes the cursor on your
screen to move back one space. [See also destructive backspace,
non-destructive backspace].

bandwidth - A range of radio, audio, or other frequencies.
Telephone lines have a bandwidth of 300 Hertz to 3400 Hertz.
Since it is so limited, it a modem must careful change data into
sounds that "fit" within this range. Similar to frequency spec-

bannerware - A software program that is free to use and copy, but
somehow advertises another program or product.

baud - A term referring to the speed at which computers communi-
cate. Officially, it is the number of changes in an electronic
signal per second. Since the number of changes usually is the
same as the number of bits sent or received per second, bps and
baud are often used interchangeably. However, there is a differ-
ence, which is very often confused. Many 1200bps modems are
advertised as 1200 baud, even though they operate at 600 baud.
They send out 2 bits 600 times a second, which means that it is
600 baud. However, since it is so often misunderstood, you can
assume that when you see "baud" it means bits per second, unless
it is stated otherwise. The term comes from the scientist J. M.
E. Baudot. [See also bps, dibit].

BBS - An acronym for Bulletin Board System. Usually it is a home
computer that has a modem attached and is waiting for calls from
your computer. It can, however, also refer to commercial serv-
ices (such as CompuServe and the Source) and any other computers
that you can call via telephone lines. BBS's almost always allow
you to leave messages for other users. Many BBS's have programs
that you can download and use on your computer. BBS can also be
expanded simply to `bulletin board'.

bisync - Refers to a modem that synchronizes with an electronic
signal over the telephone lines that marks the beginning of
words. Don't worry if you don't understand this term.

bit - A Binary digIT. It is a number in base 2, which means that
it can only be a 0 or a 1. It is used in the expression `bits
per second'. [See also byte, word].

blind dial - This is when a modem will dial a number without
waiting for a dial tone. Some long-distance telephone services
will require a number to be dialed, even though there will be no
dial tone. In this case, your modem should be set to blind dial.

block - A group of characters. For example, when downloading a
program, blocks of 128 or 1024 characters are often sent.

board - [1] See BBS. [2] A group of messages on a BBS that are
related. For example, a BBS might have a board for general
messages and another board for messages dealing with computers.
[Same as subboard, message base].

bps - Bits Per Second. The transmission speed of most modems is
measured in baud or bps. Bps is literally the number of bits
sent by the modem every second. [See also baud].

braces - The characters { and }. [See also left brace, right

break character - This is a signal sent from one modem to another
that lasts for about a second. It is sometimes used to try to
clear up synchronization problems.

browse - To go through the list of titles of messages and note
which ones you want to read.

buffer - [1] (verb) To save all incoming data in memory. [2]
(verb) to temporarily save data until the computer has a chance
to use it (using interrupts). [3] (noun) The place in memory
where the saved information is stored, as in "I have a 32K buff-

bulk mailing - Used on a BBS when you send the same message to
more than one person. This saves you from rewriting the message.

bulletin - A special message posted on a BBS, usually written by
the SysOp. In most cases all users are expected to read any new
bulletins that may have been posted since their last call.

bulletin board - [1] See BBS. [2] See board (definition #2).

bulletin board system - See BBS.

busy - When a bulletin board is being used by a user, or when the
telephone line is being used.

busy signal - The sound that you hear on a phone when the phone
number you are trying to reach is being used. It usually con-
sists of 60 cycles per second. [See audio monitor].

byte - A group of 8 bits. It usually represents one character.
[See ASCII].


call back unit - A device that, after you connect with a BBS and
tell it who you are, will then call your phone number. This is
used to make a very secure system to prevent hackers from invad-
ing a system. It then becomes very difficult, if not impossible,
for a hacker to get into the computer system.

caller - Anyone who connects with a BBS. It is usually used in a
phrase such as "You are caller #4328."

caller log - A list of callers who have called a BBS within a
given time period. The list may also keep information such as
the baud rate of the caller. This is used so that the SysOp can
keep track of users, as well as the occasional hacker.

call waiting - A service that the phone company offers most
customers that allows the customer to hear a special sound on the
phone if there is an incoming call while the customer is talking
with someone else. The customer can then talk with either call-
er. This is a nice service unless you have a modem and call
BBS's. If you are connected with a BBS and someone else calls
you, you will be disconnected. In most areas there is a special
2 or 3 digit number that you can dial before a phone call that
will temporarily disconnect call waiting.

capital letters - See uppercase.

capture - To 'catch' text that is being sent to your computer
from a BBS and put it in a buffer or a file.

capture buffer - The area in a computer's memory where a terminal
program stores incoming data that is to be saved. [Also called
capture memory]. [See also buffer].

capture memory - See capture buffer.

card (peripheral) - Any computer peripheral that can be connected
directly, without any cables, to a computer. Internal modems are
usually peripheral cards.

caret - The character ^.

carriage return - See return.

carrier - The tone that the modem sends over the phone lines
before any data is sent on it. It has a fixed frequency and a
fixed amplitude.

carrier detect - The wire in an RS-232C cable that holds the
information as to whether the modem senses a carrier. [Also
called CD].

carrier frequency - This is the frequency which a modem uses to
transmit or receive data.

CB simulator - A computer service where there are multiple phone
lines (usually at least 5). The CB simulator allows all the
users to send messages to one another while they are on-line. It
usually allows both public messages that everyone who is on can
see and private messages that only one user can see.

CCITT - Comitte' Consultatif International Telephonique et Tele-
graphique. This French group established certain standards for
data transmission.

CD - See carrier detect.

center - Some editors on BBS's allow you to center a line of text
so that it appears in the middle of the screen.

character - Any letter, numeral, or symbol.

chat - A mode that allows two or more people (almost always a
SysOp and a user on a BBS) to communicate with each other using
the modem. Usually, each person can see what the other is typing
at all times and can interrupt them (a beeping sound with a
CTRL-G is useful to interrupt with).

checksum - A number that represents a larger group of numbers in
order to check for errors in data transmission. It is commonly
used when downloading a program. The checksum is the result of a
mathematical equation, such as adding all the numbers in a group

Christensen protocol - See Xmodem.

city code - With some foreign countries, you need to dial a city
code before the phone number you are trying to reach. You must
dial the country code before the city code.

clear to send - See CTS.

columns - The width of your screen as measured by the number of
characters your screen can fit across it. BBS's often ask for
your screen width. Most current computers have a screen width of
80 columns.

command buffer - The place in your modem's memory where it stores
the commands that you give it. [See also buffer].

command set - A list of all the possible commands that you can
give something, such as a modem, a BASIC program, or a BBS.

commands - Instructions that you can give to a modem, a BBS, or
another similar device.

commercial software - Software that is copyrighted and may not
legally be distributed by BBS's or copied and given to other

communication - The idea of transferring one's thoughts or ideas
to another person.

communications program - A program similar to a terminal program
but somewhat better. Often used interchangeably with terminal

compatible - When one object can work as another. Though the
term is usually used with computers, it is often used with mo-
dems. Many lesser known modems are compatible with more popular

compress - To make data take up less space. Archiving programs
do this, which means that files will take less time to transfer
with modems. [See also archive].

computer network - See LAN.

configure - To set something to your liking. To configure a BBS,
you may have to tell it your screen width, whether you need line
feeds and other such information.

configuration - All of the information that you used to configure
something. Configuration is often used to describe what equip-
ment you have for your computer (your computer configuration).

connect - [1] To be at a point where you can start communicating
with a BBS, as in "I have connected with the BBS." [2] Any point
after you have established contact with a BBS, as in "I am still
connected with the BBS" or "I have been connected with the bulle-
tin board for just over an hour."

connect speed - The speed, in BPS, which your modem uses when it
connects with a BBS. This speed will depend on the speed of your
modem, and the BBS's modem. It will be no higher than the lower
of the two speeds. If you have a 2400BPS modem, and call a
1200BPS BBS, your connect speed should be 1200BPS.

connection - The actual contact with a BBS. It is used most
often in expressions such as "I have a bad connection," meaning
that there is line noise.

continue - To pick up where you left off, usually after pausing
in the middle of a message. CTRL-Q and the spacebar are used
most commonly to let the BBS know that you want to continue.

control character - Any of 32 ASCII characters that do not print
on your screen or printer. These characters are usually used to
control your computer. [See also CTRL].

copyright - A term meaning that a program or text file is pro-
tected by the government so that it may not legally be copied,
except to make backup copies. You should not upload a copyright-
ed program to a BBS, unless it is shareware or freeware. [See
shareware, freeware].

Co-SysOp - A term similar to a vice president. The Co-SysOp of a
BBS has more access to the BBS than any other user except the
SysOp. The Co-SysOp might check messages to make sure that they
are suitable for the BBS (not containing illegal messages), and
he may be able to validate users. Sometimes a Co-SysOp is just a
title given to someone who helped the BBS a lot by doing things
such as posting messages. Also, there can be more than one Co-
SysOp. [See also SysOp].

country code - The code that the telephone company uses to desig-
nate a certain country. If you need to call a BBS (or a person)
in a foreign country, you need to dial the country code, then
usually the city code, and then the phone number.

- Carriage Return. See return.

CRC - Stands for Cyclic Redundancy Check. CRC is a system to
make sure that data (usually a downloaded program) is as free as
possible from error.

crash - When a BBS is harmed in such a way that it is temporarily
inoperable. The usual cause is that some files are destroyed,
either by accident or by a hacker. Some people try to crash
BBS's, a fact that most users (and especially SysOps) think is

crash recovery - This feature of some file transfer protocols
allows a user to continue a download/upload that had been inter-
rupted. With this system, a user will not have to receive the
data that had already been sent before the disconnection.

crippleware - This is software, usually distributed as shareware,
but it is not a complete program. If it is a game, it might only
let you play the first level. If it is a database program, it
might only let you have 50 entries (whereas the real version
would have more).

CRT - Cathode Ray Tube. This is another name for a computer

CTRL - The abbreviation for ConTRoL. This abbreviation is fol-
lowed by a dash and then a character, such as CTRL-C, meaning the
control character C. [See also control character].

CTRL-G - The control character G, which usually causes the com-
puter to produce a beeping sound.

CTS - This is when the modem lets the computer know that it can
send information to the other computer. This is used only needed
in half duplex mode.

cursor - The marker that points out where text will next appear
on your screen. It can be one of many things, usually a plain
white or flashing square, or an underline.

cyclic redundancy check - See CRC.


dash - The character -.

data - A group of characters that represents meaningful informa-
tion. It can be in the form of anything ranging from bank ac-
count numbers to all the words in a book. [See also

database - [1] A program that keeps track of data, such as the
information contained on mailing labels. [2] A large group of
data. The sum of the information that you can receive on exten-
sive pay services such as CompuServe can be considered a data-

database hack - A way that hackers attempt to gain access to
someone's account. They create a list of common passwords (such
as SECRET and MINE) and try every one on an account to see if it
is the right password. Knowing about this method, an intelligent
BBS user should realize that they should not use easy-to-guess

data bits - [1] The number of bits that the modem uses to repre-
sent one byte. This is usually 8, though it can be 7 since ASCII
needs only 7 of the 8 bits. [See also format]. [2] the actual
bits within a byte being sent through the phone lines.

data byte - The byte of information that is to be sent over the
phone lines.

data carrier detect - See DCD.

data grade - A phone line that is set up by the phone company to
be more convenient for data communications. However, it is
rumored that data grade lines are no better than the alternative,
voice grade lines. [See voice grade].

data mode - The mode that a modem is in where all information
typed on the computer will be sent through the modem, and all
information received by the modem will be placed on the screen.
[See also terminal mode].

data set ready - See DSR.

data terminal ready - See DTR.

DCD - Data Carrier Detect. This flag indicates whether the modem
is connected to another modem.

decoy program - A program or text sent on mainframes and multi-
line BBS's that simulates the log-on procedure. The unsuspecting
user will enter his password, and the person who made the decoy
program will get the password and can use the account. Only
enter your password if you are sure you are giving it to the
computer, and not a decoy program!

default - A setting or an answer that is automatically assumed.
If 80 columns is a default, then you only have to change it if
you want something other than 80 columns.

delay time - The time it takes between sending data on one com-
puter and receiving a response. The higher the delay, the less
efficient some file transfer protocol are. [See also protocol].

delete - To destroy information. Often you only delete one
character at a time, such as when you are typing a message. To
do that you usually use the DELETE key.

demodulate - To convert the tones from the phone lines to data.

destructive backspace - A term that indicates that your terminal
program deletes the character the cursor is on when it receives
the backspace character. [See also non-destructive backspace].

dial - To send out either tones or pulses that the phone company
needs to understand what number you are calling. Most modems
will dial automatically.

dialup line - A telephone line connected to the telephone compa-
ny. This is a regular phone line. [See also leased line].

dial tone - The sound that is on the phone line when the phone is
picked up if it is ready to have an outgoing call made. Your
modem, if it can dial, should understand this tone.

dibit - Two bits sent simultaneously by a modem. A modem can
operate at 1200bps and 600 baud. What happens is 600 times a
second, the modem sends out a dibit (two bits). Therefore, it is
sending 1200 (600 times 2) bits per second. [See also bps,

digital - A system using discrete numbers to represent data. In
computer systems, these are the numbers 0 and 1 (for binary).
[See also analog].

DIP switch - DIP stands for Dual In-line Package. DIP switches
are a group of small switches placed together, usually on elec-
tronic equipment. Many modems have these. The switches can be
changed to alter various settings. For example, one DIP switch
on a modem may change the status of the DTR.

disconnect - To hang up the phone and cause the connection be-
tween you modem and another computer to be stopped. Most BBS
programs have a way of disconnecting a user who has called the
bulletin board.

door - A gateway that will allow a bulletin board to run a pro-
gram while a user is using the BBS. The user can use most pro-
grams that the computer can normally run. These programs can
range from games to business programs.

down - A word meaning that a bulletin board that is not working,
so that you can not connect with it. This can mean that there
was a crash, or it could simply mean that the SysOp is playing a
game on his computer. Often a SysOp will leave a phone connected
to his BBS line off the hook when he is using the computer so
that you will get a busy signal. [See also running].

download - To receive a computer file from a bulletin board. It
is usually a computer program, but can also be text. [See also

driver - A program that will connect a program to a peripheral
device (usually a modem or a printer). The driver will allow
characters to be sent to or received from the device. Also, it
will allow control of certain functions (such as letting a pro-
gram hang up the phone with the modem)

DTMF - Dual Tone Multi-Frequency. This is used in tone dialing.
It is a method where 2 distinct tones are sent for each digit

DTR - Stands for Data Terminal Ready. DTR is a flag that, when
set, indicates that the modem will be using its built-in terminal
program. When running a BBS, this flag should be turned off
(either with a DIP switch or a command sent to the modem).

dumb modem - A modem that only sends and receives characters to
or from the phone line. [See also smart modem].

dumb terminal - A keyboard and monitor that receive and send
information either to or from another computer or a phone line.
It is up to the other computer to do anything else, such as word

duplex - The capability of both sides of a connection to send
information. Full duplex is the same as duplex. When you are
talking on the telephone to someone you are using duplex (you can
both talk at the same time). [See also simplex, half duplex].


EBCDIC - Stands for Extended Binary-Coded Decimal Interchange
Code. It is a way of coding characters. It is similar to ASCII,
but it uses 8 bits instead of 7. [See also ASCII].

echo - [1] A character that is sent back from a BBS instead of
the one that is sent. For example, if you enter your password on
a BBS it will often say `dots will echo', meaning that it will
send a period for every character in your password (it is a
safety feature). [2] When a bulletin board or your terminal
program sends back the characters that you type. If the bulletin
board does not send back the characters, your terminal program
should print them to your screen as you type them.

echomail - This is a technique used by many BBS's that will allow
a message base to be shared by many BBS's. Usually late at night
the BBS's will exchange any new messages. This way a user on one
BBS can interact with users on other BBS's.

edit - To change a message that you have created.

editor - The part of the BBS that allows you to enter a message
and edit it.

electronic mail - See E-mail.

E-mail - Electronic-mail. Messages that are sent to individual
people. You choose who to send the message to and only that
person receives the message. (Some BBS programs allow you to
send bulk E-mail, which goes to more than one person, but the
concept is still the same.)

emulate - When a communications program imitates a certain brand
of terminal.

encryption - Coding data so that people who are not supposed to
see the data will not.

EOF - Stands for End Of File. It is the character CTRL-Z, which
marks the end of a text file.

error - When there is line noise and one or more characters are
changed. This is especially noticeable when downloading or up-
loading a program. In this case the error must be detected.
[See also line noise].

error free - When referring to data transmission, error free
refers to data that is transmitted perfectly. This is actually
an impossible situation, but it is possible to have data that is
very, very close to error-free.

ESC - See escape key.

escape code - A sequence of characters (usually +++) that in-
struct a modem to change from data mode to terminal mode, if they
are typed with a certain amount of time between characters. [See
also date mode, terminal mode, guard time].

escape key - The key marked ESC on a computer keyboard. It is
often used to 'escape' out of a program or procedure in a pro-
gram. Also, the ASCII character (ASCII 27) is used by ANSI to
produce limited graphics. [Same as ESC]. [See also ANSI].

even parity - This indicates that the parity bit is always set
such that the sum of the bits in each byte that is sent, plus the
parity bit, is an even number. [See also parity, format].

executive mode - When a user is connected to a bulletin board,
but the SysOp is controlling the bulletin board. The most common
use of an executive mode is when the SysOp validates users with-
out the user having to hang up.

exit - See logoff.

expert mode - Some BBS's have this feature, where a user who
feels he knows the system well can save time by not having menus
sent to his system. If he forgets some commands that are avail-
able, he can have the menu appear. Otherwise, the menus will not

extension - The extension of a filename is the last three charac-
ters, which are separated from the rest of the filename by a
period. For example, the filename SPREDSHT.WKS has the extension
"WKS". [See also archive].

external modem - A modem that is located outside of the computer.
It is hooked up to the computer with a cable, most commonly an
RS-232C cable. [See also internal modem].


FCC - Stands for Federal Communications Commission. This is the
government agency that is responsible for making sure that phone
lines are being used correctly and that radio interference is as
close to nonexistent as possible.

FDM - Frequency Division Multiplexing. A way that some modems
transmit full duplex information, by splitting the telephone
bandwidth into two sections. One is used to receive data, the
other is used to send data. This method can be used at speed of
up to 2400BPS.

feedback - A message that is sent by a user to the SysOp of a
bulletin board. While it is meant to be a way for the user to
let the SysOp know of any complaints or compliments they may
have, it is more often a convenient way of sending E-mail to the

file - Any data that is stored by a computer in a form that is
accessible by disk. It can normally a program, text, or data for
a program. Most BBS's will allow you to send or receive a file.
[See also download, upload].

filter - When a communications program or a BBS program take out
certain characters or words and don't accept them. For example,
a bulletin board program may filter out CTRL-G's so that the
SysOp does not hear the beeping. Also, some BBS programs have
the ability to take out obscene words from messages. [See also
profanity filter].

filter device - A piece of hardware which goes between the modem
and the phone line of a BBS or mainframe. When a user calls up,
they will either have a voice or computer connection that asks
them for a special password before they can gain access to the
main computer system. This makes it more difficult for hackers
to get into the system, but makes more of a burden for the legit-
imate users.

flash - On a normal telephone, this is when you quickly push down
and release the off-hook button. This is often used for call
waiting. Many modems have a command that will simulate this.

flag - A piece of information that is either TRUE or FALSE. It
is used in some bulletin board security systems to indicate
whether the user has access to certain parts of the bulletin
board. It is also used by modems for certain indicators such as

flow control - A method of controlling when information is sent.
The BBS will send information until your computer sends an Xoff
(CTRL-S). It will resume sending information when you send an
Xon (CTRL-Q).

format - Information such as `8N1' that describes the way that
your computer and a bulletin board should be connected. The
first digit is normally 7 or 8, the number of data bits. The
second character is a letter describing the parity (N for None, M
for Mark, S for Space, O for Odd, and E for Even). The last
number is the number of stop bits. 8N1 is most often assumed.
Data is sent as follows:
Start bit (0) - 7 or 8 bits of data - (parity bit, if used) -
stop bit (1) - (gap bits, if used)

forward - When pertaining to E-mail, it means to send E-mail that
you received to someone else.

framing bits - Bits that are used to separate characters. The
bits themselves are not used for information.

freeware - Computer programs that are copyrighted, but they may
be legally copied if there is no payment involved. They are
almost the same as public domain programs, but public domain
programs are not copyrighted and may be sold for payment. Free-
ware programs often can not be changed when they are distributed.
[See also public domain, shareware, copyright].

frequency division multiplexing - See FDM

frequency shift keying - See FSK.

frequency spectrum - A range of frequencies. Similar to band-

FSK - Frequency Shift Keying. This method that low-speed modems
use to transmit information over phone lines uses 4 frequencies,
which are used to represent 0's and 1's for both sending and
receiving. These modems can only operate up to a frequency of
600BPS at full duplex (or 1200BPS at half duplex).

full duplex - See duplex.


gap - A series of 0's that will are sometimes sent between data
bytes over the phone lines.

garbage - Unwanted characters that appear due to line noise.
[See also line noise].

general file - Any kind of text on a bulletin board that is not
specifically E-mail, a bulletin of any sort or a message. Usual-
ly they are long files for the user's information. Some examples
of general files are: a file containing more information on the
bulletin board program, a newspaper article about a controversial
issue, and an article that explains how to make your own disk

global scan - When a bulletin board goes through all the messages
on all boards to check for new messages that the user has not yet
read. This is very useful as it prevent you from having to go
through each board to check for new messages.

goodbye - The command on a BBS that will log you off.

guard time - When the escape code is sent to your modem, the
guard time is the amount of time that can occur between charac-
ters of the escape code. If a longer delay occurs, you can not
switch to terminal mode. [See also escape code, data mode,
terminal mode].

guard tone - A tone that is sometimes sent over the phone line
for echo suppression. 1800 Hertz and 550 Hertz are sometimes

guest - When a user is just looking at a bulletin board and does
not want to receive an account there. The user usually has the
same privileges as a new user who has not yet been validated.
Quite a few bulletin board programs allow guests. This is a good
feature, since the SysOp does not have to validate users who will
not be calling the board more than once or twice.


hacker - [1] A programmer who likes to experiment with computers
(this is the type of person who often will not read the documen-
tation to software before using it, so he can figure out how to
use it by himself). [2] A person who attempts to abuse the
privileges of computer BBS's and other services. His activities
may range from getting and exploring an account he is not sup-
posed to have on a mainframe computer to attempting to crash a
bulletin board. These people are unwanted by most BBS's. They
are often not malicious. The media sometimes confuses them with
phreakers [See also phreaker].

half duplex - This is a mode which allows only one computer at a
time to transmit information. When one computer is finished, the
other then can start to transmit. [Same as simplex].

hand-shaking - The process of establishing an electronic link
between two computers. Handshaking can let both computers know
the speed they will be using, as well as other information.

handle - See alias.

hang - When a bulletin board all of a sudden starts to do noth-
ing. That is, it will not accept calls or let the SysOp type
anything until the computer is turned on again.

hang up - When someone closes a switch which stops a telephone
connection. This either happens when someone puts a telephone
receiver into its cradle or when the person instructs the comput-
er to hang up.

help file - Many BBS systems will include information of how to
run the system in case you are having troubles. Often just
pressing H at the main menu will show you the information, but
with some well-designed (there's a hint of sarcasm there in case
you didn't notice it) systems you have to find the help file
somewhere, sometimes amidst the files to be downloaded.

host - The computer that is being used to send and retrieve
information from other computers. Every BBS is a host, and so
are pay services.

host program - A computer program that allows your computer to
accept incoming calls. If you want to do anything more than
that, such as record information or print it out, you usually
have to do the programming yourself.

hot-keys - A term which means that you only have to press one key
at a menu, rather than several. You don't even have to hit the
return key. Usually you can do this while the menu is being sent
to your computer.

hyphen - The character -.


ID number - The unique number that a computer bulletin board may
assign you. If the BBS uses ID numbers, you need to remember
this number and your password in order to access the bulletin
board. Same as user number, account number.

idle time - When a computer is not being used. This refers to
either a computer running a BBS that is not busy, or a caller
that is not typing anything or receiving anything. Some BBS's
will hang up a user if there is a certain amount of idle time
(such as a minute).

incoming - Information that is being sent to the computer which
is being referred to. Therefore, incoming data it the data that
is being sent to your computer.

information - Any data that is sent between computers. Data
usually refers to numbers and small pieces of information.
Information is usually used for larger things, such as text

initialize - To set up either hardware or software to work cor-
rectly with your system. Many modems have to be initialized each
time they are used so they `know' what to expect. When your
software initializes your modem, it may tell the modem to expect
2400 baud and no parity, as well as the fact that you do not want
any information to echo on your screen.

interdigit interval - When pulse dialing is used, you need a
certain amount of time free of "clicks" so the phone company
knows that the digit is finished. When you are dialing on a
rotary phone, you don't need to worry about this because the time
it takes to turn the dial is sufficient. A modem that sends
pulse codes must wait a specified amount of time before going
from one digit to the next in a phone number. A value between
1/2 second a 1 second is usually used.

internal modem - A modem that is `hidden' inside your computer.
Outside of your computer you will only see the phone cord. An
internal modem can either be on a peripheral card that is placed
inside your computer, or it can be built into your computer.

interrupt - An interrupt, as far as modems and computers are
concerned, is an electronic signal that tells the computer that
something important is happening. Most modems can be set up by
software to send an interrupt every time a character is received
by the computer. When operating at fast speeds, this makes sure
that the computer doesn't miss characters as it is printing them
on the screen or saving them to a disk.


jack - A small plastic box that your phone cord fits into on your
wall. This box converts the three wires that are inside the
phone cord into 3 separate wires that the phone company uses to
make your phone calls.

jump - A command used on some BBS's to go from one board on a BBS
to another.


K - When K is placed after a number, it means 1024 times that
number. If you computer has 128K that means that it has a little
more than 128000 bytes of memory. Often telecommunications
software will tell you that you have a certain amount of free
memory to use as a buffer.

Kermit protocol - An almost error-free file transfer protocol
usually used for text transfers. It was developed at Columbia
University. [See also protocol].

keyboard macro - A macro that will allow you to hit one or sever-
al keys and have the program act as though you had typed a lot
directly from the keyboard.

kill - When referring to a message on a bulletin board, it means
deleting the message from the board. Usually you can only delete
the messages that you write (unless you are a SysOp).

--- L ---

LAN - Local Area Network. This is a group of computers that are
all connected. Usually, there is one computer that controls all
peripherals (such as printers and a hard disk drive). The other
computers are linked to the controlling computer, which lets the
other computers take turns using the peripherals.

leased line - A telephone line that directly connects two comput-
er. It is usually rented from the telephone company. A leased
line doesn't have some of the electronic restrictions that a
dialup line has, so data can be sent faster. However, data can
therefore only be sent between the two computers. [See also
dialup line].

leave (a message) - See post.

leech - A term used for a person who downloads a lot from a BBS,
and does not upload much or use the message bases.

left-brace - The character {. It's not used often.

left-bracket - The character [.

letter - [1] The characters A-Z (uppercase or lowercase) [2]
Another term for a message posted on a BBS.

LF - Line Feed. This is a control character (ASCII 10) that is
used on some computers and printers to move down one line (on the
screen or paper). It is usually used right after a carriage

LHARC - A program that will un-arc archives with the extension
"LZH". [See also archive, LZH].

line - [1] A row of characters on your screen, for example, many
computers have screens with 25 lines. (See also columns). [2]
The connection between your computer and a BBS. Most commonly
used in the term "line noise." [3] A phone line connected to a
BBS. For example, a BBS might advertise that it has "4 lines,"
meaning that 4 people can call the BBS and use it at the same
time. [Same as node].

line delay - See delay time.

linefeed - See LF.

line noise - This is interference on the telephone lines. It
will cause a character or many characters of garbage to appear on
your screen. In general, the higher the BPS of your modem, the
more line noise will appear.

local - On a computer that is running a BBS, there are 1 or more
phone lines connected to it. However, the SysOp can usually use
the BBS, too, from the keyboard. This is considered a local

local echo - This is when a communications program will send
information (either that you type or from a file) to your screen,
as well as the other modem. Usually this is not the case, and
the BBS you are connected to will send the information back to
you, and only then will the communications program print what you
typed on your screen.

log - A log is a file that keeps track of some kind of use. In a
communications program, it might keep track of what BBS's you
call. A BBS can keep a user log, which is a file that indicates
which users called up and when. [See also user log].

logic bomb - This is part of a software program that will do
something malicious. For example, the author of a BBS program
might have the program set up so that if he enters his initials
in a certain point while the program is running, it will destroy
the files on the BBS.

logoff - To leave a BBS. When you choose to logoff, the BBS will
usually ask if that's what you really want to do, then it will

logon - The process of connecting to a BBS. The is what occurs
after you have called the computer and the phone starts to ring,
but before you actually start using the BBS. "Logon" can also
include the process of entering your name and password (which is
also called sign-on). [See also signon].

lowercase - The letters that are normally used, such as in this
sentence. The other kind of letters are UPPERCASE. [See also
uppercase, capitals].

LZH - This file extension refers to an archive that was com-
pressed with the program LHARC. You need to get that program
from a BBS before you can un-archive the program. [See also
archive, unarchive, LHARC].

--- M ---

macro - A series of instructions or text that can be entered by
hitting a couple of keys. For example, a communication program
might let you enter your user name and password just by hitting
CTRL-N. [See also trigger character].

mainframe - A large computer that many people can use at the same
time. Usually a mainframe computer is owned by a large company,
and it will has a lot of memory and storage for its users. Some
mainframes have phone lines connected to them so that employees
(or other authorized people) can use the mainframe from home.

manual-syncing driver - This is when a BBS program can not deter-
mine directly what the user's bps rate is, and the user must hit
the return key several times before the BBS can figure out the
user's speed.

mark - When you are looking at the titles of messages to read,
some BBS programs will allow you to choose certain ones you want
to read. This is called marking.

mark parity - This is when the parity bit is always set to a
binary 1. [See also parity, format].

menu - A list of option that you can choose from. A BBS might
have a menu that lets you choose from reading messages, download-
ing, or logging off. In reality, there would be many more op-

message - Any text that is left in a message base on a BBS.
These can range from questions for other users to answer, to
information on new computer programs, to just about any topic you
could imagine.

message base - A group of messages on a certain topic. For
example, a BBS might have a message base for general messages,
computer-related messages, and social information. Some BBS's
have dozens or even hundreds of message bases.

minicomputer - A scaled-down version of a mainframe. A mini
computer usually has many terminals connected to it, and can run
many programs at the same time. It is more powerful than a

MNP - A type of error correction that some modems use. It is
built into the modem, unlike software error correction in file
transfer protocols.

mode - The state that a computer or a program is in. For exam-
ple, a computer can be in a text mode, and a communications
program can be in a chat mode (which operates differently than
the normal mode).

modem - MODulator/DEModulator. This is a computer peripheral
which allows a computer to communicate over telephone lines.
This is the heart of computer telecommunications. The main
factor that differentiates modems is their speed, measured in

modify - To change a message after you have typed it.

modulate - When a modem changes information from computer bits
into tones that can be transmitted over the phone lines. [See
also PSK, FSK, FDM].

multiple-speed - This refers to a modem that can operate at
several speeds. Most modems are capable of doing this. While a
modem may be listed as having a speed of 2400BPS, it most likely
can operate at 1200BPS and 300BPS.

multi-line BBS - A BBS that has more than one line or node.


NAK - This control character (CTRL-U) is sometimes used by commu-
nications or BBS programs (usually in file transfers) to indicate
that the information it received was bad. NAK stands for Nega-
tive AcKowledgement.

new user - When you use a BBS, usually you will have the status
of new user for the first few calls, until the SysOp verifies
your account (at which time you will normally be considered a
registered user). A new user usually has less privileges, such
as not being able to download programs.

news - Some BBS programs will have announcements that are shown
when you log on to the BBS. These are often referred to as news,
since they often inform you of changes to the BBS. [Same as
system news].

next - A command in some BBS programs that will let you view the
next message in a list.

node - A line on a BBS. BBS's sometimes advertise having a
certain number of nodes, meaning that that number of people can
use the BBS at the same time. [Same as line. Line is more
common than node].

noise - See line noise.

null character - The ASCII character 0, or CTRL-@. This charac-
ter usually will not be printed on the screen. It was originally
used when communications programs were slower and could not
receive information as fast as it was sent, so BBS programs would
send these characters in between lines to slow down how fast the
information was being sent.

null modem - A special connection between two computers that will
make the computers think they are hooked up to a modem, so that
they can communicate to each other.


odd parity - This indicates that the parity bit is always set so
that the sum of the bits in a byte, plus the parity bit, is an
odd number. [See also parity, format].

off hook - The state that your telephone is in when you pick it
up. In non-computer life, it usually means when the telephone
connection is accidentally disconnected, such as "Someone must
have left the phone off the hook." A modem that takes the phone
"off hook" is taking control of the phone line, and it will
usually then dial a phone number for you. When a telephone line
is "off hook," you are not able to receive calls from other
people. (See also on hook)

off hook button - This is the button on a real telephone that is
depressed when you put down the received. It signals the phone
company that your phone is off hook, and ready to receive calls.

off line - When your computer is not connected to another BBS.
(See also on line)

on hook - When your telephone is not being used, and it is ready
to ring if someone calls. (See also off hook)

on line - When your computer is connected to a BBS. For example,
some communications programs will keep track of how long you have
been on line. This lets you know how long you have been connect-
ed to the BBS.

originate - To call another computer and connect to it. The
originating computer is the one that placed the telephone call
(as opposed to the BBS, which is the answering computer).

originating computer - The computer which dials another computer.
This is most likely referring to your computer (unless you have a
BBS, or other people are calling your phone number, and you have
your computer's modem answer the phone). [See also answering

originate frequency - This is the frequency of the carrier that
is used by the modem that places a call to another modem. [See
also answer frequency].

originate mode - This is when a modem is ready to place a call,
rather than accept an incoming call.


packet - [1] A group of bits sent by a modem that comprise a byte
of information. [2] A group of bytes sent by a file transfer

page - (noun) A page in one screen's worth of information. Many
BBS's will automatically wait for you to press a key after it has
sent you a page of information. (verb) to alert the SysOp that
you would like to speak with him. Many BBS's will allow you to
do this, and it will make beeping sounds so that the SysOp will
know you want to talk to him. [Same as yell]. [See also chat].

PAK - [1] The extension for files archived with the program of
the same name. You need the program PAK to un-arc an archive
with this extension. [2] The program itself. [See also archive,

parallel - This is when a computer sends data one byte (or any
number of bits other than one) at a time. This is faster than
the alternative, serial. [See also serial].

parity bit - Most modems have the capability to send an extra bit
for every byte sent, which is used to help sense errors. This is
called the parity bit. It can be set to no parity, mark parity,
space parity, odd parity, or even parity. Most BBS's use do not
use a parity bit. [See also format, mark, space, odd, even].

password - A special code that only you should know. This code
will allow you to gain access to your account on the computer.
Different BBS's have different rules as to how long your password
can be and what characters can be used. You should not use a
password that is easy to guess (such as your name, or
"password"), because a hacker might try to gain access to your
account by guessing your password.

PBX - Private Branch Exchange. This is the telephone system that
many offices have, allowing for extensions for each telephone,
and a connection to the main telephone system.

phase shift keying - See PSK.

phone number - A number identifying a specific phone line. In
the United States, a phone number consists of a 3 digit area code
and a 7 digit number. If you call BBS's in other countries,
there may be a specific country code and city code that is part
of the phone number. You can usually find these codes in a phone
book. A BBS will usually ask you to tell it your phone number
before you can be a registered user.

phreaker - A person who spends a lot of time trying to find out
as much as possible about the telephone company, and how it
works. They often try to find out ways to make long distance
calls for free. Some steal calls from telephone credit card
users, some steal calls from the phone company directly, and
others don't make "free" long distance calls. They are sometimes
confused with hackers (See also hacker).

pick up - To pick up a carrier is when the 2 modems recognize
each other's signals over a phone line. After this point the two
computers can communicate.

pins - The ports on the back of your computer and an external
modem will have pins. Each pin has a certain function, such as
letting the computer know that the modem is online.

PKARC - The program which will make an archive with the extension
"ARC". [See also archive, unarchive, ARC].

PKUNZIP - The program which will un-arc a file that has the
extension ZIP. [See also unarchive, archive, ZIP].

PKXARC - The program which will un-arc an archive created with
PKARC. [See also unarchive, archive, ARC].

PKZIP - The program which will create an archive with the exten-
sion "ZIP". It is one of the most popular archive programs.
[See also archive, unarchive, ZIP].

poll - [verb] The process when a computer checks whether a pe-
ripheral or another computer has data to send. [noun] See vote.

post - To save a message that you have written on a BBS so that
other people can see it.

private - When referring to a message, it means that only a
specific person or several people that you specify can view the
message. [See also public].

private branch exchange - See PBX.

privileged - Some BBS's have a privileged user level, where the
user can do more than a regular user. For example, they may be
able to download more programs than regular users. [See also
user level].

profanity filter - Some BBS's have a this special function that
will take out any of a number of specified words from messages
that people leave. That way, the BBS will automatically keep
itself "clean," even if users try to leave swears in their mes-

prompt - A character or group of characters that are meant to
remind the user of a BBS that he needs to enter some information.
It might say "What now?" or it might list the name of the message
base the user is currently in, or a list of possible commands.

protocol - When referring to file transfers, a protocol is a
method of sending and receiving a program. There are many meth-
ods available, each with different advantages and disadvantages.
[See also Xmodem, Ymodem, Zmodem, Kermit].

PSK - Phase Shift Keying. In this method of modulation/demodula-
tion, there are two frequencies used (usually 1200 Hertz and 2400
Hertz). There are 4 different phase angles (0, 90, 180, and 270
degrees), representing dibits 00, 01, 10, and 11. This is usual-
ly used for 1200bps transmission. Note that the baud rate using
PSK is really 1/2 of the bps rate, since 2 bits are sent at a
time instead of one. [See also modulation, demodulation].

public - When referring to a message, it means that the message
is available for everyone to see. [See also private].

public domain - A program that is in the public domain usually
has no copyright, and can be copied legally by anybody without
payment. BBS's often have public domain software available for
people to download. [See also shareware, freeware, commercial

pulse dialing - A method that some phones use to dial numbers.
It involves a series of "clicks." Most modems support this type
of dialing, which is the only type available in some remote
areas. The other method of dialing is tone dialing. [See also
tone dialing].


quickscan - An option used by some bulletin board programs which
will let you check several messages bases to see if there are any
new messages.


RD - Receive Data. This is the wire in an RS-232 cable that
receives data.

receive - To transfer information from another computer to your
computer. To receive a file is the same as downloading the file.
[See also send].

registered user - This is the most common user level on most
BBS's. It usually allows reasonable usage of the BBS (perhaps it
will give you a time limit of 45 minutes per day, and let you
download up to 200K of programs). [Same as regular user]. [See
also user level].

regular user - A user of a BBS who has the normal user level.
[Same as registered user].

remote - A computer in a different location. For a BBS, the user
is at a remote location (since they are connected by the phone
line, and not right there).

request to send - See RTS.

reread - After a message is sent to your computer from a BBS, the
reread command will send the message again. This can be useful
if the message is long.

reset - A modem can be reset. This will change any options (such
as parity and speed) to the values that they have when the modem
is first used. This can be useful if you change some values for
the modem and aren't sure what they do, and then the modem won't
work. Resetting the modem will fix everything for you.

result codes - These are either numbers or words that the modem
sends to the communications program (which will usually print
them to the screen for you to see) that indicate how the modem
responded to an action you requested. For example, if you tell
the modem to dial a number, it may respond with "CONNECT 1200",
which is a result code that means that the computer dialed the
number and connected to a computer on the other end.

return - ASCII character 13. This is the key marked "RETURN" or
"ENTER". It will advance the cursor to the next line. [Same as
carriage return].

reverse - When you are in a message base, you may find this
command which will allow you to read messages is backwards order
(from newest to oldest messages).

right brace - The character }.

right bracket - The character ].

ring - When someone calls you on the telephone, the sound that
your phone makes is called a "ring." Also, when you call someone
(or a computer), it will ring before they pick it up. This
indicates that the number is not busy, but nobody has picked up
the phone yet.

ringback - The sound that you hear over the phone that indicates
that the phone is ringing on the other end, and not busy. It
sounds a lot like a phone actually ringing.

RPG - See Role Playing Game

Role Playing Game - Some computers don't act as places to leave
messages or programs, but instead let you play a game. On these
computers, you have a character and call up the computer to move
around in a world with other characters (other people who call
up), and you interact with them (for example, you may try to kill
the character). [Same as RPG].

rotary - A phone that dials with the pulse method. [See also
pulse dialing, tone dialing].

RS-232 - The name of an interface that connects a computer to a
modem (or other serial device). The interface consists of 25
wires. Some computers and peripherals have an RS-232C port,
which allows you to connect them with a simple cable.

running - Working. If a BBS is running, then it is working
correctly and people can call it. [See also down].

RTS - Request To Send. This is when the computer tells the modem
that it wants to send information to the other computer. It is
only used in half duplex mode.


scan - To look through messages or file descriptions to either
find news messages/files or look for certain key words within the
messages or descriptions.

screen width - The number of characters that a computer can
display on one line. On most modern computers, it is 80 charac-
ters. [Same as video width]. [See also columns].

sector - A unit to measure storage space. It usually refers to
256 bytes. It is rarely used anymore.

security level - Some BBS programs will have different user
levels, usually numbered, which allow different levels of access.
For example, 0 might refer to an unregistered user, 10 a regis-
tered user, and 99 for the SysOp. Each would have different
levels of access on the BBS. [Similar to user level].

send - To transfer information from one computer to another. To
send a file is called uploading the file. [See also receive].

serial - The method that a computer uses to send and receive data
one bit at a time. Contrast this to parallel. [See also paral-

set-up - (noun) - Information that a BBS has about your computer.
(verb) - To give the information about your computer to a BBS.
This information usually includes screen width, whether you want
hot-keys, and other miscellaneous information.

shareware - programs can be distributed freely, but you must pay
for these programs if you use them. They usually allow you to
try them for a specified period of time, and then either pay for
them or get rid of the program. Many BBS's have shareware pro-
grams that you can download without paying the BBS, but you must
remember that if you use a shareware program you are supposed to
pay for it. [See also public domain, freeware, commercial soft-

shell virus - A virus which places itself either before or after
a program on a disk or in memory. It can be easy to detect such
a virus, since the length of the program will be longer after the
virus hits than before. [See also virus].

SIG - Special Interest Group. This is similar to a message base,
but it may also contain files. It is generally used on large
services, such as CompuServe. [See also SIGop].

SIGop - The coordinator of a SIG. This person is responsible for
checking messages to make sure that they pertain to the topic.
[See also SIG].

sign-off message - A message that is displayed when you log off a
BBS. Often the message will include the numbers of other BBS's,
and in some cases the BBS will allow you to leave a message for
the next user to call the BBS.

sign-on - The procedure of letting a BBS know who you are. This
involves giving the computer information such as you user number,
name, password, and sometimes even phone number.

sign-on message - A message that is displayed by a BBS after you
sign on. Often the news will go here. On some BBS's you can
leave a sign-on message for the next caller. [See also news].

simplex - See half duplex.

smart modem - Originally the brand name of a modem, it refers to
a modem which has capabilities which make it 'smart'. Most
modems now sold are considered smart. Basically, it means that
the modem has many features.

smart terminal - A terminal that is capable of certain editing
features. [See also terminal, terminal emulation].

space parity - This is when the parity bit is always set at a
binary 0. [See also parity, format].

special interest group - See SIG.

speed - This refers to the BPS of a modem. The most common modem
speeds are 300BPS, 1200BPS, 2400BPS, and 9600BPS.

start bit - This bit indicates that the data byte will be follow-
ing. It is always a binary 0. [See also format].

statistics - Any information that a BBS keeps on its users. Some
BBS's keep track of how many messages a user posts, how many
programs the user uploads or downloads, and even how many times
the user has called.

stats - See statistics.

status line - In communications programs, sometimes the bottom
line of the screen will contain a status line, which has informa-
tion such as the speed of the modem, the parity, how long you
have been connected to a BBS and other such information.

stop bit - When a modem sends a byte of data, it usually sends
one or two bits after the data byte, before the next byte is
sent. These bit(s) are called stop bits. They are always a
binary 1. [See also format].

streaming Ymodem - See Ymodem-g.

subboard - A term referring to different message bases with
specific topics. This term is rarely used any more.

subject - Most BBS's require that you leave a short description
about any messages that you post on the BBS. This description is
referred to as the subject of the message. [Same as title].

subop - A term used for the operator of a subboard. Some BBS's
would allow a person besides the SysOp to control a message base.
This person would be able to kill any messages that he/she felt
were inappropriate.

synchronous communication - With synchronous communication, data
bytes are not marked with a beginning and end, but instead are
sent at a specific interval. When computers send data to modems,
it is synchronous communication. When modems send the informa-
tion they get from the computer, the modem will add start and
stop bits to identify the bytes. That is asynchronous communica-
tion. [See also asynchronous communication].

SysOp - Short for SYStems OPerator. This is the person who is in
charge of a BBS. He has the power to change anyone's user level,
delete users, delete or edit messages. Usually this is the same
person who paid for the BBS equipment and pays for the phone

SysOp window - Some BBS programs have an area of the computer
screen (on the computer that the BBS runs on, not the user's
screen) that gives information about the user, such as his pass-
word, where he is from and his phone number. This is called the
SysOp window, and is for the convenience of the SysOp. [Similar
to top of screen display].

system - Your computer. When a BBS asks for your system configu-
ration, it is referring to information about your computer, such
as screen width.

system files - Any computer files that are used by an operating
system, or in the case of BBS's, files that are used by the BBS
program that do not get changed.

system news - See news.


tab - The key on your keyboard that will move the cursor forward
about 5 spaces. It is not an ASCII character (it is similar to a
function key, since it does not output a single character).

TD - Transmit Data. This is the wire in an RS-232 cable that is
used to transmit information.

telecommunication(s) - This word has no precise definition, but
is frequently used. Its definition ranges from "any form of
communication over a distance" to "any communication by electric
means" to "two computers 'talking' to each other via modems."
Methods of communications that probably are considered telecommu-
nications: BBS's, telephones, TV's and fax machines. The word
can be used either in singular or plural.

term program - See terminal program.

terminal - A CRT and keyboard that are connected to either a
computer or a modem. [See also smart terminal].

terminal emulation - When a communications program can simulate
the operations of a smart terminal.

terminal mode - Some modems have a built in terminal program. On
these modems, if that program is running, the modem is said to be
in it's terminal mode.

terminal program - A program that allows a person to use a modem.
It is generally very limited. A communications program is a more
advanced version of a terminal program. Usually a terminal
program will simulate a specific brand of terminal. [Also called
term program].

terminate - To disconnect with another computer. This is some-
times listed as a command in menus on BBS's.

text file - Any information that can be read, and is stored in a
computer file. A text file can be any kind of information, such
as a description of a computer program.

tilde - The character ~.

time limit - Most BBS's have a time limit, where you can only be
on the BBS for a certain amount of time. On some BBS's you can
only be on for a certain time each time you call, on others there
is a daily time limit.

time out - BBS programs often will disconnect a user if he
doesn't type anything for a certain amount of time. Time out
occurs when the time limit is reached and the BBS program hangs
up on the user. This is done so that users do not tie up the
BBS, which would mean that other callers could not get through.

timing signal - A signal sometimes sent by modems over the phone
line that let the receiving modem know when a byte of information

title - See subject.

tone dialing - This is a method that a phone or modem uses to
dial a phone number. It uses one tone per numeral to be dialed.
[See also pulse dialing].

top of screen display - Some BBS's have this display on the top
of the screen of the computer running the BBS. This will show
the SysOp certain information about the user, such as his phone
number, how many programs he has downloaded, etc. [Similar to
SysOp window].

transfer - To send a computer program from one computer to anoth-
er. [See also download, upload, protocol].

trapdoor - This usually refers to a BBS program (or a mainframe
that you call up) that has a special code that can be entered to
give you high access. Usually it is entered as a user name and
password when logging on. These are undocumented by the program,
and usually created by the programmers so they can gain access to
any computer running their BBS program. Hackers try to find
trapdoors, but they are usually not created by hackers. (Some
other kinds of software have trapdoors, such as video games,
which might have trapdoors to give you extra lives).

trigger character - This is a character that, when pressed,
starts a macro. [See also macro].

trojan horse - A trojan horse is a program within another pro-
gram, usually on a mainframe or a computer running a BBS. The
original program looks innocent, but when run it will trigger the
trojan horse, which will usually try to gain access to the main-
frame computer system or BBS.

type-ahead buffer - Some BBS programs let you type characters to
the BBS, even while it is sending information to you. When it is
finished sending the information to you, it will then act on the
information you sent. The type-ahead buffer refers to the proc-
ess, and the space in the BBS computer's memory where the charac-
ters are held.


UART - Universal Asynchronous Receiver/Transmitter. This is a
device in a modem that will change serial data (they way data
comes in over the phone line) to parallel, and vice versa. [See
also serial, parallel].

un-arc - See unarchive.

unarchive - To take out the files from an archive. [Same as un-
arc]. [See also archive, ZIP, ARC, PAK, LZH].

unattended - This mode is available on some communications pro-
grams. It will let your computer wait for a telephone call from
another computer, and will let the person using that computer
access your computer (usually to download or upload programs).
It is call unattended because you don't have to wait for the
person to call, it will automatically answer when they call.

underline character - The character _.

underscore character - Any character (although almost always the
underline character) that is used for underlining. When this
method is used, the text to be underlined will be sent (usually
to a printer), and then backspaces will be sent, and then the
underscore character will be printed over the text, so it looks
like it is underlined.

upload - To send a program from your computer to a BBS. [See
also download, transfer].

uppercase - Letters that are used for emphasis, as opposed to
regular lowercase letters. CAPITAL letters are the same as
uppercase letters. The first word in a sentence is usually in
uppercase. Some older computers were only capable of displaying
uppercase characters.

user - A person who uses a BBS. For example, a BBS might claim
that it has 500 users, which means that there are 500 different
people who have called the BBS.

user level - The level of security which a user has. This usual-
ly is in the form of word(s), usually progressing from: New User,
Registered User, Privileged User, SysOp Level. [See also securi-
ty level].

user list - Most BBS programs will allow you to see a list of all
the its users. It will show the user's name, and often city and
state. This is called the user list. Rarely will it show any
phone numbers or more detailed information.

user log - A file on a computer running a BBS that lists which
users called, what time they called, and sometimes information as
to what they did while they were on the BBS.

user name - This is the name that a person uses on a computer
system. Sometimes an alias is used, but it is more often the
user's name or a variation of it.

user number - A number that is used by some older BBS programs to
keep track of users. On these BBS's, a user would have to remem-
ber a specific number as well as his password. Most BBS's now
use just use the person's user name instead, which is much easier
for a user to remember.

userfile - A file that a BBS program has that keeps track of all
users of the BBS and their statistics.


verify - This is when a SysOp makes sure that a new user is who
he or she claims to be. The normal procedure is for the SysOp to
call up a new user, just to make sure that the phone number he
listed is real. This is a way to make sure that the users are
less likely to abuse the system. However, most SysOps do not
call new users, since it is time consuming. Some SysOps will
look at the information the new user left just to make sure it
"look" right (if the new user says his phone number is 555-1212,
the SysOp knows it is not real). After verifying the user, the
SysOp will usually raise the user's user level.

verified user - Any user who has been verified by the SysOp. It
is also used to refer to user's who have access better than that
of new users.

video width - See screen width.

virus - Any program which spreads itself secretly. It reproduces
within a computer, and also will go to other computers if possi-
ble (through file transfers). At a certain point in time, the
virus will do something (anything from say "Boo" to something
destructive, such as erasing all files on a hard disk drive).
They are hidden inside legitimate programs that seem to run
normally, but contain the virus. It will usually spread to every
program you run. Viruses became widespread because BBS's can
inadvertently spread virus all across the country. Whenever you
download a program, it might have a virus in it. However, there
are several programs available which find many viruses and can
destroy them.

voice grade - A telephone line that is designed to transfer human
voice. This is the way most phone lines are set up. However,
the phone company also has data grade lines, which are supposed
to make data communications easier. [See also data grade].

vote - Some BBS's have this feature, which allows the SysOp to
find out user's preferences about things ranging from operation
of the BBS to political positions. It is similar to a survey in
the non-computer world. [Same as poll].

VT100 - A smart terminal, which is emulated by many communica-
tions programs.

VT52 - Another smart terminal,which is emulated by many communi-
cations programs.


window - A distinct area of a computer screen that contains
information different than the rest of the screen. Sometimes it
covers other information (in which case it is temporary), or it
is permanent and does not contain other information. [See also
SysOp window].

word wrap - A function of editors on BBS's (just like that found
in most word processors) which will move a word that won't fit at
the very right hand of the screen down to the next line.

worm - A program which embeds itself within another program.
Either it tries to find a space in which it won't be noticed, or
it will just stick itself anywhere within the main program (which
will ruin that program). A worm will usually also be destruc-
tive. [See also virus].


Xmodem - A file transfer protocol developed by Ward Christensen
around 1977. It is fairly slow by today's standards, but was the
first widespread file transfer protocol. It uses blocks of 128
bytes, and after each block is sent, it sends a 1 byte checksum
to check for errors. If an error is encountered, the information
will be re-sent. Almost every communications program offers this
protocol. [See also protocol].

Xmodem/CRC - The same as Xmodem, but it has a 16-bit CRC instead
of the checksum, which makes it more reliable (it catches more
errors). [See also protocol].

Xmodem-1K - This is similar to Xmodem/CRC, except it uses blocks
of 1024 bytes, rather than 128. It is faster than Xmodem, since
it needs to stop less often to check for errors. This is some-
times incorrectly called Ymodem. [See also protocol, Xmodem,

Xoff - The CTRL-S character. This is often used to pause infor-
mation that is being sent. The information will be continued
when an CTRL-Q is received. [See also Xon].

Xon - The CTRL-Q character. This will sometimes continue paused
information. [See also Xoff].


yell - See page (verb).

Ymodem - A file transfer protocol which can transfer more than
one file at a time. It transfers both a file and some informa-
tion about the file (including its length, and the name of the
file). It is similar to Xmodem/CRC, except that Ymodem can
transfer more than one file at a time. It will use CRC-16 if
possible, or else it will use a 1 byte checksum. It will use
both 1024 byte blocks and 128 byte blocks. [See also protocol].

Ymodem-g - This is Ymodem changed to provide best results with
error-correcting modems. Errors can be discovered, since Ymode-
m-g uses CRC, but if there are any errors in the transmission,
the transmission will be aborted.


ZIP - The file extension which refers to archives that were
created by the program PKZIP. You need the program PKUNZIP to
get the files out of the archive. [See also archive, unarchive,

Zmodem - A file transfer protocol which is known for its speed,
as well as the ability to transfer information about a file with

the file. It has crash recovery and auto-download features, and
can use a 32 bit CRC, which makes it almost error-free. [See
also protocol].


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