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12 technology terms that date you

If you work in technology, it is very important to stay current. Here are some terms to avoid if you want to avoid an old fogey tag.

In a recent piece on networkworld.com, Carolyn Duffy Marsan listed 12 tech phrases that she says should never be spoken in the workplace, or especially during an interview, because they will show your age.

[EDITED NOTE FROM TONI: The hyperlink in the above paragraph will take you to the original piece in which you will find what that original author recommends in the way of alternate terms. Judging from the discussion below that may not have been clear to many readers.]

I'm not sure I agree with her completely. To me, nothing breaks the ice between two technical people like reminiscing about now-obsolete technology. Also, time and experience provide a valuable perspective for learning new technology. I think what Marsan means is that it's okay to speak in reminiscent terms in the right situation, as long as it doesn't mean your learning stopped with those terms.

Here's the list:

  1. Intranet
  2. Extranet
  3. Web surfing
  4. Push technology
  5. Application Service Provider (ASP)
  6. Personal Digital Assistant (PDA)
  7. Internet Telephony
  8. Weblog
  9. Thin Client
  10. Regional Bell Operating Companies (RBOCs)
  11. Long-Distance Call
  12. World Wide Web

What do you think? Do you have any more to add?

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

628 comments
techrepublic
techrepublic

Basically I think the original is wrong in almost instance. In most of the cases in referring to those exact things, the "old" terms are still correct. The newer terms might be in some common usage but in most cases are just plain wrong describing the technology.

jcohen
jcohen

As an IT Manager in a large, successful, fast moving ompany, I have a hard time accepting these so called "Dated" terms. Most of these terms are alive and well. I would appreciate someone coming into my office for an interview and talking about ASP and thin clients (Windows of course) and then telling me about how we could reduce long distance charges and RBOC issues by utilizing Internet Telephony. I guess in a way what I've just described is so general any monkey with a suite on could spit out terms but still, these technologies are not dead nor should they be considered so.

LarryBoy2
LarryBoy2

Sorry I missed this discussion. I wasn't checking TR very often while I was laid off. However, I've reviewed the original article, and scanned some of the comments attached to it, and would have to agree with the general consensus of those comments. Although I have not attempted to read even most of the 620 comments here (don't have time for that), some of the subject lines and most of the few that I have read seem to agree. Many of the so-called outdated terms are still quite actively used in the typical workplace. It makes me wonder whether some people in the editorial business have their collective heads in the clouds, the ones way up in the ozone. And comparing terms used by teens to those used in the work world is simply childish and off-base. Also, some of the claims in the explanations are patently false. For example, the author claims that it's "probably time to stop referring to the PSTN, too, because it is headed for the history books as ALL (emphasis added) voice, data and video traffic is carried on the Internet." Sorry. As one of the comments to the original article notes, "the PSTN, which this article declares dead, is in fact still a crucial part of the infrastructure for the Internet. Compared to cellular and VOIP, it still provides superior voice quality and reliabilty." I would add, anyone using their local phone company for a landline phone is still using the PSTN, not the internet, for their telephone service. And, statistically speaking, though I have not seen the specifics lately, the majority of people with landline phones are using the local phone provider for service.

jflush
jflush

Actually, while the thin client might be dated... we now call it a 'cloud'. Same crap though, try to do all the work on the servers and not let you customers get near a real computer that can process anything. It is also the huge 'in' thing in the video game industry... Yeah, thin clients are back in for those that know them, you just have to switch up your terminology to include the new and revised 'cloud' edition.

pandemoniumctp
pandemoniumctp

Since technology is expanding and improving upon itself so fast, terms and acronyms also get dated very quickly. In 10 years, twittering may not even be commonly known by the younger generation and merely spoken of in past tense. (Personally, I hope much sooner.) I realize these are actually terminologies for technologies and not technology terms invented by the masses, but I digress. Good 'ole times. :) -Mainframe -Floppy disk/drive -Dial-up, 56k or #### baud modem -AGP (Accelerated Graphics Port) -DOS -Windows 3.11 -Serial & Com port -Math co-processor -Turbo button

spasierb
spasierb

I daily use Intranet/Extranet, and thin clients. 1 I work with MOSS 2007 which heavily uses them, 2 every company I have ever been to has an intranet. I also work with a lot of legacy systems that run thick and/or thin clients. Im only 28 so I cant be thaaat dated.

GudHart
GudHart

Well, if you're like me, it isn't hard to 'date' me. Being mostly into electronics, I still use terms like "condenser" (instead of capacitor), etc. ;-)

Cat333Pokemon
Cat333Pokemon

I still hear many people ask what that "www" at the beginning of a URL stands for. You can't really answer the question without saying "World Wide Web" or lying and saying "it has to be there".

brennj4
brennj4

This is really not an accurate representation. Some of the technologies on this list are still very much a big part of the industry. For example, Thin clients. While they may have started back in the old school, they are coming back in a big way thanks to application and system virtualization. I work in the IT department at a decent size college and we use thin clients to connect to a vmware back end. Saves us tons of money. Additionally, push technology was just added to the iPhone in release 3.0 of their software. If something is GROWING in the industry, how can you be looked down upon for speaking about them. Just my two cents.

dpresley_50201
dpresley_50201

FM (not the radio band) and PFM? What modern high technology (another dated term) is to 90% of those who use it. For those not familiar with the two terms' usage: FM -- F***ing Magic, PFM -- Pure F***ing Magic. Sometimes, during my tech career, there were phenomena me and my co-workers experienced that only be described one of those two acronyms. Radio has a large penchant for being that way at times.

filker0
filker0

I don't know if it was mentioned, but Frank Hayes wrote the following song lyrics, back in the dark ages of the 1990s... When I was a Boy By Frank Hayes When I was a boy, our Nintendo Was carved from an old Apple tree And we used garden hose to connect it To our steam-powered color TV. But it still beat that ancient Atari 'Cuz I almost went blind, don'tcha know, Playing Breakout and Pong on a video game Hooked up to the radio. And we walked twenty miles to the schoolhouse Barefoot, uphill both ways, Through blizzards in summer and winter Back in the good old days. Back when Fortran was not even Three-tran And the PC was only a toy And we did our computing by gaslight When I was a boy. When I was a boy, all our networks Were for hauling in fish from the sea-- Our bawd rate was eight bits an hour (and she was worth it!), And our IP address was just 3. And you kids who complain that the World Wide Web Is too slow oughtta cut out your bitchin', 'Cuz when I was a boy, every packet Was delivered by carrier pigeon And we walked twenty miles to the schoolhouse Barefoot, uphill both ways, Through blizzards in summer and winter Back in the good old days. Back when Fortran was not even Two-tran And the mainframe was only a toy And we did our computing by torchlight When I was a boy. When I was a boy, our IS shop Built relational tables from wood, And we wrappered our data in oilcloth To preserve it the best that we could. And we carried our bits in a bucket, And our mainframe weighed 900 tons, And we programmed in ones and in zeros And sometimes we ran out of ones. And we walked twenty miles to the schoolhouse Barefoot, uphill both ways, Through blizzards in summer and winter Back in the good old days. Back when Fortran was not even One-tran And the abacus? Only a toy! And we did our computing in primordial darkness When I was a boy. [You can find various performances of this song on YouTube.]

drhenry
drhenry

Yes, & horrors if you hire an old person! It's bad enough that ageism is practiced, we have people going around enabling this bigotry.

bernalillo
bernalillo

Member that one? Whew, doggies, what a blast from the past! To tell the truth Toni, I'm not to worried about it. I really don't mind if people want to value kid speak as an indicator of technological skills. I do ok, cleaning up after people who sound impressive, regardless of why they sound that way.

Osiyo53
Osiyo53

Chuckle ... interesting. Besides the fact that the original article contains several flaws, there is the fact that I don't mind being "dated". For the past couple of weeks I have been working on a project with a couple of guys who're much younger than myself. One is 25 and the other is 31. I'm 60. During breaks and lunch periods both have had a bit of fun with the fact that I'm "dated". They seem to be amused when I mention "back in my day" stories, when I use old terms they aren't familiar with, and when I have to ask them to translate something they've said into terms I'm familiar with. A couple of times I'm had them almost breaking out into loud guffaws at something I've said. And I've picked up their little hand signs to each other, complete with rolling eyes that means, "Oh, here he goes again !" LOL ... but that's okay. It's the way of the world and we humans, it's always been the way for youth to think oldsters are obsolete, the past tense, and no longer relevant. I let em have their fun and take no offense. However I have taken em down a notch or two now and again. Several times by pointing out that some so-called "new technology" they mention, complete with new terms associated with it, is really nothing more than some old ideas with new hardware/methods applied. Which I've had no problem whatsoever understanding. And I've burst their bubble several times by going through their work and finding major mistakes and errors. Even in the newest and latest/greatest technology. The difference is ... they're familiar with all the latest terms and technologies, in a superficial sort of way. But I actually know how the stuff REALLY works, under the hood. Which is, BTW, why I'm there working with them.

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

A certain violinist I know is out of whack. (etu)

Grumpa777
Grumpa777

Just this past week, I ran into a kid who didn't know what a "Phone Booth" was. He was in his Teens; either a HS Senior or College Freshman.

jb
jb

What a lack of respect! This separatism and excess egocentristic attitude of todays children is so self destructive. It is so unfortunate that so many people that have invested so many years of their lives in the establishment of the foundation upon which these disrespectful kids direct their arrogant ignorance towards just sit there and take it like a brain-dead mass of tissue and bone. Pathetic!

eduramater
eduramater

My hands-down favorite is "long distance." I know people in their early 70s (just 20 years older than me) who still get all freaked out, saying "this is a long distance call!" I'm always tempted to tell them they're throwing money down the drain on a sub-par phone plan if they're paying extra for LD. These are the same people who talk about "special delivery mail" and having the mechanic look at their carburetor. Talk about being stuck in a time warp!!

Zenith545
Zenith545

Carolyn Duffy Marsan's middle name should be Doofus. When I am in the office "browsing" the company's network, Internet Explorer still displays "Intranet" in the lower right hand corner. Some people need to get a real job! I would rather be an "old fogey" then the person that refers to the entire computer as "the hard drive".

hlhowell
hlhowell

Some terminology changes due to technology making them obsolescent, others change because usage changes. Knowing the difference makes you either "hip" or a technologist. 1. Intranet I guess that now the term is LAN 2. Extranet And now WAN But LAN has a totally different connotation and actually a different technological meaning. Intranet applies to the company's total internal network, and with today's companies, that can mean a world wide intranet, with secure tunneling, secure lines, additional filters, ssh type connections of various varities and so on. How would you differentiate that? 3. Web surfing I never liked this one. This was slang from the beginning. And is not a technology term in any way. 4. Push technology This applies to a service, and one of automatic updates according to Windows users, but they are not technology savy, in fact Push technology has multiple uses, among which deal with a certain form of database update, and also some kinds of automated search. Just because you don't use the term doesn't mean it is outdated or inappropriate. You may just be uninformed as to its intended uses and meanings. 5. Application Service Provider (ASP) ASP technology is a term that describes certain forms of software as well as a form of terminal service. The software is still alive and well, although it seems to be fading from preference (thankfully). 6. Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) I still have my PDA. I often want to check something while I am on the phone, and haveing an all in one device for someone with both hearing and eyesight imparement means two devices work better than one (although the juggling act is a ******.) A PDA is not necessarily an IPOD or other Apple tool, nor necessarily a Blackberry, but a PERSONAL digital assistant. Just as some people prefer the filofax or other paper document due to the way they have developed their workhabits, a PDA is a tool. Tools are always good and valuable to the person who knows and understands its use. Few Blackberry owners utilize more than a small percentage of its capability. Do they need that capability? Maybe, but if they cannot access it or understand it or their personal network doesn't utilize a particular service, then it is not useful to them. 7. Internet Telephony Now we call this VOIP. It is ironic that most of the network travels over infrastructure provided by telephone companies, isn't it? But a network is a big untractable beast on the national or world level and the telephone companies had the greatest expertise and installed infrastructure. I don't care which term you use, it is the same service. There are newer services with more options, video, targeted text, meeting services and so forth, but one one one telephony says to most of us what is happening. I like VOIP, its shorter, but how many of the people using the term even know what the IP stands for? 8. Weblog Blog? A slang term in both uses. maybe I am a bit jaded, but slang is slang, and neither is a technical term, so chose which ever you want. It is just a personal webpage, no matter how you use it or link to it. 9. Thin Client Ok, this one is probably toast, at least until our favorite rumor of the technology future takes off, once you have cloud computing, you will find this may make a new comeback. 10. Regional Bell Operating Companies (RBOCs) Again, this has specific connotations, and also LEGAL interpretations. Because it is also a legal term used to delineate tarrifs, it is not obsolescent, but perhaps not common in technology discussions. 11. Long-Distance Call We still have distance charges in many places in the world. Connections, wire, relays, maintenance and so forth have to be maintained, and used even though many folks believe satellites do the work, during sunspot cycles, or high noise periods, good old wire carries the day. And distance is not a technology word, but a relative term. I like it, and what would you replace it with? 12. World Wide Web Duhhhh! www what? OK, what is going on here, is the european union going to change our designation, just like they are attempting to rethink the decisions on layering of the internet protocol? I haven't heard of any new term that describes this, other than shortening it to "the Web", which was a movie shortening, and not one that was readily termed by engineers or "geeks" insitu? Just my ageist take on the whole terminology thing. And by the way, I remember aerials, antennas, and radio, too. Regards, Les H

vesuvana
vesuvana

How about 10Base-T, PhoneNet (from Farallon), WAN, Banyan Vines, V.32bis, Rockwell 56 Kflex, ISDN, RJ-11 for networking; TTL, EGA, burn-in, VDT (video display terminal) for monitors; and lastly let's not forget CP/M. Look at the old ads on http://oldcomputers.net/ for a laugh.

a.berry
a.berry

...that this (and the original article) refer to usage during an interview, which implies that this kind of gross misinformation is being used to determine who will be running IT in America in a few years time. So much for American technological dominance...

dpresley_50201
dpresley_50201

They used POTS instead (Plain Old Telephone Service). You really date yourself if you still use the term mho as a measurement of reverse trans-conductance (Sieman is the now the current unit term). BTW, if I remember correctly, Siemans measure reverse current resistance of silicon based electronic components like transistors and diodes. Anyone from the vacuum tube era want to share?

sangraal
sangraal

Firstly, it should be irrelevant the year or generation any phrases is created within if it get the idea across. It is all information. Unless it becomes "chic" to not attempt to understand what someone is saying based on not adhering your contemporary vocabular of buzz words, people will seek to understand what one is saying, based on what one is saying. This article is worthless, IMHO. Not only that, some of these are actually still relevant terms tht there are no other way to efficiently identify them with. "Intranet" shouldn't be said in the workplace? "Browsing" is the proper term for movement through the internet based on what tweens are saying? This article must only be a joke...

JasonKB
JasonKB

Perhaps the OP (not Toni) is correct after all. If you do not know or use those terms you must be some young, wet behind the ears, greenhorn (a.k.a. FNG n00b type). Therefore people will think you are much younger than you actually are. Cheaper than a facelift and less risky than Botox. I've tried to hit as many generations of slang as possible here just so everyone gets it - from the hipsters to the original settlers. If I have missed a group please add it...

dbecker
dbecker

by Michael H. Brackett -- for Data Administrators, Copyright 1983. During the 1980s, there was a local Data Administrator's "User Group". We even had a Data Administrator for awhile, but since he didn't have any power outside of Information Systems, they fired him because he had nothing to do. My take on Data Administration was that it was there to artifically provide jobs for people with high graphoria but low structural visualization. I asked our ITIL instructor what ever happened to Data Administration and she had never heard of it. So, Data Administration -- now there's a term which will really date you.

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

We called them Dumb Terminals not Thin Clients. Only difference is the external package that they come in these days but still the same thing. ;) Col

dpresley_50201
dpresley_50201

I forgot there were three levels of "magic." Magic -- mystifies the user, but the tech knows exactly what's going on. the user inquires how the tech cured the problem to which the tech replies "Magic!" FM -- user totally lost and the tech is befuddled, but the engineer knows exactly what's going on. the techs wonder how the engineer did it and determine it was FM. PFM -- even the engineer is confused and the problem goes away. the techs decide it was PFM. There you have it.

wfs1946
wfs1946

I can remember when. . . where I worked we had a lot of HPFM around in those days. I still come across it on rare occasions. HPFM? High Powered F***ing Magic. . . What else?

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

PFM is when the [u]engineer[/u] knows how it works, but not why. edit: runaway underscore

vucliriel
vucliriel

Two Thumbs Up, It's a beautiful piece of wisdom that applies to many fields :)

gypkap
gypkap

They're on almost every wireless router at home and on public wifi ports, and of course in laptops with wireless internal antennas.

jpnagle59
jpnagle59

Baud.....half duplex...full duplex....8083....

DesD
DesD

which has about 70% of its key data in a database, and there the Data Administrator really does do a vital job, mediating between developers and operations (DBAs) to keep the data value high and the costs low. I suspect it only works in a certain size organisation : to big and they all do their own thing because they have enough budget to do so; too small and they don't know enough to coordinate and save themselves some effort.

bobjorg
bobjorg

Can anyone tell me what the actual difference would be between today's cloud or thin client sstems and the IBM 360 with model 3270 terminals? Again the vendors push something old as being something new. Or, am I just showing my age (75)again?

SObaldrick
SObaldrick

Anymore. I think they were more akin to today's monitors. Even then, I think today's monitors are smarter. Les. Addendum .. monitors with a keyboard attached.

REMAC
REMAC

Remember when Cycles per Second became Hertz. First business computer I saw was the IBM 305 RAMAC. Worked on Keypunches, Sorters, Collators, etc. Favorite machine was the 407 Accounting Machine with 3500 relays in three relay gates, electromechanical counters, plug board programming that read cards and printed 150 cards/lines per minute.

willis0966
willis0966

...you're showing a little age... just like me. Seems like it works about the same.

bobjorg
bobjorg

Our users wanted PC-XTs with their 10MB hard disks and 128KB memory. To get them to connect to the 370 we needed emulator boards that would make them look like an IBM 3270 terminal. Since the XT didn't have a built in clock that kept time (DATE and TIME statements were in the start up commands and you had to enter the correct date and time yourself) we also got the emulator boards with a built in clock. The Finance Director never did learn to say emulator, he always called them emory boards. Also, the PC magazines had programs you could key in for all sorts of small utilities. One day I keyed in a program that would automatically set the clock, then left for the YMCA on my lunch for a workout. When I returned, I found that the program had locked up not only the PC but also the communication line so no one could get in. I never did that again.

JCitizen
JCitizen

but then we probably didn't need the bandwidth you guys did.(circa -1985) The most useful application was talking back and forth over our C460 Zerox typewriters(memory writers). You could buy them with built in modems, but I added mine later. Later on I used my laptop to do the same thing with a purpose built module to communicate with the Zerox machines, using a program called SCOM. It was a nifty arrangement. I had the local Zerox reps scratching their heads, wondering how the heck I got it going! HA!

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

We had to make our own cables to avoid the coils of Slack Ribbon that was a common occurrence. Part of the reason now why I refuse to make any cables if I can buy on to suit and that includes Monitor Cables. Of course that didn't have Insulation Displacement Plugs back then and I had to solder the leads to the plugs. I got quite good at not burning my fingers with the Weller Soldering Iron that I used to carry around with me. But it did make it easy to pull cable if nothing else though I did have one apprentice who insisted on screwing up the way that he attached plugs as it [b]Didn't Make a Difference.[/b] He finally figured that maybe he had better do as I told him when after screwing things up for the third time the same day I picked up a 18 inch blade #1 Phillips Screwdriver and attempted to us it to nail him to a wall. Little sod ran too fast for me and by the looks of things he had plenty of practice getting out of the way of Pi$$ed Off Fitters. ;) Only good thing about that day was I ran into the Country Boss as I chased the apprentice and he insisted that I have a holiday. :D I should still have an old Honeywell Terminal around here somewhere but after 2 moves I haven't seen it for a while now. Then again I haven't seen the waste toner cartridges for my color laser printer since the first move so I haven't been looking too hard. Col

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Back in about 84-85. This was a conversion from Burroughs to Honeywell for the USAF data processing system. Each of 12 terminals in the building connected through a cable to the T-mux, which connected to the local communications controller, which connected through a dedicated line to the remote communications controller, which connected to the concentrator, which connected to the mainframe. IIRC, the cables were 16 or 18-pair and came in 25-, 50-, 100-, and 250-foot lengths terminated with a centronics-type connector for the T-Mux and a DC-37 plug for the terminal. We had 2 200-foot pulls, 2 80-foot pulls, and could have gotten by with 50-footers for the rest of the terminals, as they were in the office cluster immediately surrounding mine (where the T-mux would be installed). Honeywell sent us 12 250-foot cables. As we were pulling the first two, and longest, cables from their terminals back to the T-Mux, we often had to enlarge the holes in the stone walls because they weren't large enough for the connectors. After some frustration, we figured out that the DC-37 connectors would fit through these holes as they were, so we pulled the rest of the cables from the T-mux. By the time it was all over I had a dozen cables dangling down the wall of my office and almost two thousand feet of slack coiled up underneath the mux shelf, behind the RLP. Thankfully, the RLP came with a custom-built 10-foot cable!

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

That runs at a blistering 60 Baud Max and most of the time it's around 45 on a Good day. But it is one of the really expensive ones as it plugged directly into the computer and Phone Line it doesn't have the Handset Receiver in it so it's not one of the Acoustic Ones that was so popular in those days. That thing has more LED's in it that most complete networks these days. :D Col

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

But that was pushing it. Data transfer was much more reliable at 50 baud over those HF circuits.

JCitizen
JCitizen

Talk about another term that dates me! I remember when I thought 1200 baud was some smokin' communication!!! Good ol' RS232 - hmmm!? Another one?

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

To the Mainframe/Server. Back in those days they used some strange ways to connect to the Master simply because they didn't have the faster Data Connections. I didn't work with the newer 3270 Terminals but the older ones used a Ribbon Cable as the Data Cable back to the unit that did all of the processing. I can no longer remember the actual speed but it was very slow. I still have a vivid memory of one Government Data Entry Person who could crash the entire system by typing too fast so whenever she wanted a break she would hit the terminal hard and take the Mainframe out for the remainder of the day. That was hard to track down when you had no idea why it was happening in a remote location. I spent weeks trying to find out why it was happening and only hit the reason because I was there once when it happened and could backtrack. Col

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

300 baud and 256kbps. Other than that, I don't see it either.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Had an old Philco radio on display. Always used to get nostalgic looks from the parents and quizzical looks from the students. "What does MC mean?" "What does kC mean?"