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Glossary of Computer Hardware Terms - The Letter I

written by: Jesma•edited by: J. F. Amprimoz•updated: 12/30/2008

Definitions and explanations for computing terms that begin with the letter I. Discussing terms like Input/Output, IDE, Internet and IRQ.

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    Importantance of I

    I/O - Input / Output

    A circuit path that enables communications between the processor and other devices.

    I/O Port

    An I/O Port is used to communicate to and from devices, such as a printer, disk, or keyboard. I/O ports can be anything from the plugs on the back of your computer to the ones on your motherboard - anything that another device plugs into.

    IDE - Integrated Drive Electronics

    Specifically refers to a hard disk with the disk controller integrated into it. Also refers to the ATA interface. IDE drives are characterized by a wide ribbon cable connecting the drive to the motherboard. Many also feature complex jumper settings for determining master/slave primary/secondary settings.

    IEEE - Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers

    A non-profit professional organization with 365,000 members in 150 countries, dedicated to the advancement of technology related to electricity and electrical components. IEEE forms groups for the establishment of electronic technology standards, like the 802 standards for inter-networking.

    Inkjet Printer

    A printing technology that utilizes print nozzles that spray ink onto the page. Not as fast or clean as a laser printer, but much less expensive. Ink typically comes in sets of two or four, and each set is given number designations to determine printer compatibility.


    Anything that is entered into the computer either through peripheral devices like a keyboard, mouse, or microphone. May also refer to any line from one component or device to another for the purpose of transmitting data, such as the input to the CPU from the Memory. Often coupled with the word "output" to indicate the line is bi-directional.

    Internal Device

    Any device installed inside a computer case or chassis.


    When capitalized (i.e. The Internet) refers to the world wide web's system of inter-networked computers and servers that make up a tangible mass of data, that can be accessed from any endpoint. When not capitalized, it simply refers to a network consisting of two independent networks connected together, usually through a router.

    IRQ - Interrupt Request

    A dedicated channel between main components in a computer used to tell the CPU to stop working and receive more data. IRQs can be shared by multiple devices though that sometimes causes IRQ conflicts which can crash the system.