09/07/2012 02:22 pm ET Updated Nov 07, 2012

Ancient Geeks, What Happened to K?

I pulled out my Associated Press Stylebook recently to look up a rule and noticed for the first time the section "A Guide to Computer Terms." I glanced at some of them in astonishment, then checked the copyright.


In those 22 years, the universe changed. I roamed through a few terms as defined by the Associated Press and ways reporters should use the terms. The following is exactly the way AP Stylebook presents them:

CPU Abbreviation for central processing unit. Do not use. See central processing unit. For full-size computers, central processing unit is often synonymous with mainframe.

cursor (n.) A flashing square, underline or similar display on the screen indicating that point at which the next character typed will disappear.

data bank (n. and adj.) A storage system for large amounts of information.

debug (v) Jargon for removing problems from the system. Avoid.

disk Not disc. Means hard disk, fixed disk or magnetic disk for storage device. Not an abbreviation for diskette.

diskette A generic terms that means floppy diskette. Not synonymous with disk.

first generation, second generation, third generation The first generation computers used electron tubes like the old radio tubes, the second moved to transistors and the third went to semiconductor chips.

gigo Acronym for garbage in, garbage out. Jargon. Do not use. It means that if flawed data is put into a computer, flawed data will be produced by the computer.

global search (n. an adj.) A Search that covers all data stored in a computer.

input (n) Do not use as a verb.

k Abbreviation for kilobyte. It means 1,024 bytes. Similarly, 64k means 64 times 1024 bytes or 65,536 bytes, not 64,000. Leave no space between K and the preceding number, as in 128K of storage. The abbreviation K should not be used to mean 1,000 as in $25k.

RAM test: How many of you remember any or all of these terms?

Part 2 will appear later after I find my floppy with the extra data...