Computer Software

Software refers to the programs your computer uses to perform the actions you want it to. Learn all about computer software, from Web browsers to the latest operating systems, with our explanations, reviews, videos and prices.

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The relational database was born in 1970 when E.F. Codd, a researcher at IBM, wrote a paper outlining the process. At the time, databases were "flat," and stored as one long text file. Learn how the relational database changed the way we work.

As a file-sharing program, Aimster is generally more secure because users have complete control over their files. This AOL program can also hook up with your IM friends.

Augmented reality is the blending of interactive digital elements into our real-world environments. Taking a photo just by framing your fingers is one example.

By Kevin Bonsor & Nathan Chandler


While Windows is a versatile and powerful operating system, there are times that it can be frustrating. Safe Mode is a special way for Windows to load when there is a system-critical problem that interferes with the normal operation of Windows.

Compression programs can eliminate 50 to 95 percent of file size in seconds, but when you open the file, the data is still there! Learn how to compress files!

By Tom Harris

While the original Napster got sued out of business, dozens of free file-sharing utilities have popped up to take its place. Find out how the old Napster worked and why it was vulnerable to legal attacks.

By Jeff Tyson

In the late 1980s, Adobe introduced its Type 1 fonts based on vector graphics. Unlike bitmapped fonts, vector fonts could be made larger or smaller and still look good.


The operating system controls every task your computer carries out and manages system resources to optimize performance. How does it do it without crashing (most of the time)?

By Curt Franklin & Chris Pollette

Screensavers used to be necessary due to CRT monitor quirks -- now they're mostly used for entertainment and security. Find out what a screensaver is and how it knows when to kick in.

By Jeff Tyson

What would you do if you could customize the software on your computer? Learn about open source code and how applications might be more useful and error-free in the long term.

If you want to play MP3 files in your car and your car has a CD player in it, or if you want to play them on your home stereo, then what you need to do is move your MP3 files onto a CD. Here's how.


3-D graphics are essential to realistic computer games and object modeling -- they can make computer images look totally life-like! But how is a computer model transformed into the image you see on the screen?

By Curt Franklin

GIF and JPEG formats may be the most commonly used, but there are other useful image formats for more specific purposes. Find out what they are and how to use them.

Get a refresher on the original Napster and why it caused such a storm about intellectual property laws.

How does SETI@home thing work? What do extraterrestrials have to do with screen savers?


Linux is as much a phenomenon as it is an operating system. To understand why Linux has become so popular, it is helpful to know a little bit about its history.

Even though there is nothing you can do with the cryptic error messages your computer gives you during a problem, it might be nice to at least know what they mean! Find out what the three most common ones error messages mean.

Digital images can be saved by numerous methods and in countless file sizes. Learn how the jpg format compresses your photos while maintaining resolution.

What is this MIME thing that I sometimes see in my e-mail messages? Learn what MIME stands for and how it works.


Boolean logic is the key to many of a computer's most mysterious and human-like functions, from playing chess to balancing a checkbook. How do "AND," "NOT" and "OR" make such amazing things possible?

By Marshall Brain

Bytes and bits are the starting point of the computer world. Find out about the Base-2 system, 8-bit bytes, the ASCII character set, byte prefixes and binary math.

By Marshall Brain

If you are a programmer, or if you are interested in becoming a programmer, there are a couple of benefits you gain from learning Learn how to write computer programs in C.

By Marshall Brain & Chris Pollette

CGI, or common gateway interface, allows Web servers to store dynamic Web pages that can change and update rather than remain a fixed page. This article explains the process, plus shows you how to write your own scripts.

By Marshall Brain


CDs took care of storing music digitally, then MP3 files took it to the next level, compressing audio data down to a manageable file size -- without losing sound quality! Learn about the miracle of MP3.

By Marshall Brain

Perl is easy to use once you know the basics. It can be used to create DOS batch files, C shell scripts, CGI scripts for Web pages and more. Get a great introduction to this versatile programming language.

By Marshall Brain