Tech Terms

Tech Terms are Older Than You Think

Bill Wilson
By Bill Wilson

October 27, 2021

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  • If you think the computer tech terms you read or use all the time are trendy and new, you’re very much mistaken. Some have been around for much longer than you think, even for hundreds of years! And the words you now know the meaning of used to mean completely different things long ago. Let’s take a look at some of them and how their meanings have changed in surprising ways.

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    A web proxy, sometimes known as a proxy server, can help keep your network safe.  

    A proxy server protects your network by standing between the internet and your device and the internet. You can use it to hide your identity. 

    Advanced HTTP proxy servers use geo-targeting and rotation that allow you to send unlimited HTTP requests through them anonymously. You can buy proxy HTTP servers to protect your or your company’s data assets by limiting access to websites that could contain malicious code at

    Other meanings

    The word proxy has many other meanings that have nothing to do with computers.

    Among them are:

    • Someone who deputizes or acts as a substitute for another. This person has the
                  authority to act for another person, for example, by having their permission to vote
                  for them at a meeting.

    • A proxy can be a document giving a person authorized to act on someone else’s
                  behalf, for instance, a power of attorney allowing them to vote on their behalf.


    A computer browser is what helps us find the information we need on the internet. We go online on a computer and use our browser to search for what we want. The browser has become such a well-known computer tech term that it’s hard to imagine it ever meant anything else.  But it did.

    Other meanings

    Before the Internet, people used to go to a library to browse for a book on the shelves. Or browse in a store to look at the merchandise to decide what to buy.

    The word originated from Anglo-French bouts, which meant sprouts, and people used it solely to mean humans foraging for food for themselves and shoots, leaves, and twigs to feed their animals in the cold winter. Animals like cows and horses were later said to browse for grass in fields.


    In computer terms, a server is a device that accepts requests made by computers in a network and responds to them. The devices that make requests, and receive responses from the server, are called clients. 

    The server provides services to other computers on the network, including access to files or other shared resources or routing emails. The server on the Internet gets requests for web files from clients and sends the files to them.

    Other meanings

    There are many other meanings of the word server that have nothing to do with computers.

    A server is also:

    • A person who serves drinks or food.

    • A server can also be the tray or table or other types of surface used to serve food or drink.

    • A tennis player who holds the ball in his hand throws it into the air and hits it across the net to the player opposite.

    • It can also be the person who assists a priest in celebrating a mass in church.

    • Someone who serves a legal summons on another person.


    In the computer world, the cursor is the indicator you move around your monitor to point at what you’re working on or show where you want to enter data or manipulate information. But the origin of the word is unlikely and very interesting.

    Other meanings

    The word cursor was borrowed from the Latin currere, meaning to run, which became a course in English and was used in medieval times for someone delivering messages. In the 16th century, a cursor was the sliding part of a slide rule, which might have inspired the modern computer word for a pointer indicating the position on the screen where you want to type or perform another action.


    Language is a living and changing thing, and there’s no clearer indication of that than the way the meaning of words changes over time. The computer world is a perfect example of this. Computers are a relatively new phenomenon in the world’s history, and it’s fascinating to see that they are very firmly attached to the past via some of the words that are commonly in use today but have their origins in the distant past when they had entirely different meanings. 

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