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Computer terms glossary (yet another) (Alan Silverstein)
(computer, smirk)

(Continuing down my list of submittables--getting somewhat into the dregs--I offer for your consideration --)

(Original-From: Ray Simard)

The following glossary of general computing terminology has been compiled by me for the education and benefit of all. Most entries are original; a few I have picked up over the years.

BASIC A programming language. Related to certain social diseases in that those who have it will not admit it in polite company.

BUG An aspect of a computer program which exists because the PROGRAMMER was thinking about Jumbo Jacks or stock options when s/he wrote the program.

Fortunately, the second-to-last bug has just been fixed.

C A programming language that is sort of like Pascal except more like assembly except that it isn't very much like either one, or anything else. It is either the best language available to the art today, or it isn't.

CALTRANS A programming language related to FORTRAN. Also, an inside joke for Californians.

COMMENT A superfluous element of a source program included to the programmer can remember what the hell he was doing six months later. Only the weak-minded need them, according to those who think they aren't.

COMPUTER An electronic entity which performs sequences of useful steps in a totally understandable, rigorously logical manner. If you believe this, see me about a bridge I have for sale in Manhattan.

CRASH A sudden, unexpected cessation of activity by the computer, accompanied by a sudden, unexpected increase in activity by the system administrator. Caused by someone running their huge, unimportant program just as your small, critical program is about to finish.

ENGINEER A human (?) entity who is responsible for all the problems of PROGRAMMERS.

FORTRAN A mature (see MATURE) programming language whose name means FOR TRANsmogrification (of the desired functionality).

GOTO A programming tool that exists to allow structured programmers to complain about unstructured programmers.



KERNEL A part of an operating system that preserves the medieval traditions of sorcery and black art.


MANUAL A unit of documentation. There are always three or more on a given item. One is on the shelf; someone has the others. The information you need in in the others.

MATURE Adjective used to describe anything that nobody uses anymore.

MEMORY A component of a computer that holds data. Sometimes it doesn't. Amount present in a given system is calculated in a manner similar to REGISTERS.

PROGRAMMER See definition of ENGINEER; replace all occurrences of PROGRAMMER with ENGINEER.

REGISTER A part of a computer's processor that holds information for a while. Number of registers in a given system is N-3 where N is the number needed to efficiently implement a function.

RS-232 An interface standard (what's that word you just said?) between computers, modems and stuff. Notable characteristics a universal uncertainty about switching pins 2 and 3. Uses bipolar signals; was probably designed by the CEO of a power supply manufacturer. Has signals nobody ever uses except the peripheral you just bought.

STACK A memory space used to entertain the programmers and management by overflowing or being subjected to mismatched PUSH/POPs.

SUBROUTINE A unit of software that makes tangled code look like it isn't. Opposite of GOTO (sort of). Useful for overflowing STACKs.

SYSTEM ADMINISTRATOR: A person whose job it is to do everything that isn't his job.

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