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NOTE:  Items highlighted in RED are defined elsewhere in this Glossary, while items highlighted in BLUE are site links for further information.

Philippe Kahn photo


Kahn, Philippe:  (b 3/16/52), known as the founder of Borland Corp. (1982), and creator of the first camera phone solution for sharing pictures over the Internet.

KanBan: A software development process (see Agile for more) which is an incremental evolutionary process, emphasizing just-in-time delivery.  Originates from a Japanese word which is translated as “billboard”.  It was formulated by developer David J. Anderson.

Kahn, Robert E. (“Bob”):  (b 12/23/38), a computer engineer and scientist who, along with Vint Cerf invented the Transmission Control Protocol (“TCP”) while working at DARPA, which revolutionized Internet communications.  See Internet for more.

Robert Kahn photo

KAPOR, MITCH:  See Visicalc, Lotus,  Founder of the Lotus Development Corp. (now part of IBM) and a friend of the developers of Visicalc, the developer of a popular spreadsheet program (“1-2-3”) that was the IBM PC’s first “killer program”  in the 1980sThe “1-2-3”Lotus_1-2-3_9.8_icon referred to the program’s ability to act as a spreadsheet, a database and offer charting and graphing, all within the same program suite.

kapor, mitch

KARLIN, JOHN E.: Karlin Photo (2/28/18 - 2/2013) An industrial psychologist who worked at Bell Labs from 1945 to 1977 who was the primary architect for the transition of the telephone from text and numbers (i.e. Butterfield 8 - xxxx) to all numbers (288-xxxx) and, along with it, the creation of the ubiquitous square numeric “touch tone” keypad which replaced the text and number dials previously found on all telephones.  In developing the sequence and shape of the keys and pads, he studied people’s limits because he didn’t think that people would be able to remember even seven digit phone numbers.  His research showed that the square button arranged three at a time was optimal and not beyond people’s limits.  (He also figured the optimal length of phone cords by cutting his co-workers cords a little shorter each night until they complained.  Again, humans reaching their limit.)  Now, the keypads are everywhere, on calculators, ATMs, door locks and vending machines all over the planet.  Because of his expertise, he was widely considered the “father of human-factors engineering in American industry”. 

Alan KayKay, Alan:  (b 3/17/40), an American Computer Scientist, known for his pioneering work in object-oriented programming and the windows graphic user interface (GUI) design.  Holder of numerous awards and accolades, he has worked with universities, Xerox PARC, Apple Computer and HP and is considered a visionary in the field of computing and education.

KAZAA: (Originally KaZaA)  A peer-to-peer file sharing application using the FastTrack protocol, freely downloadable, commonly used to exchange MP3 music files over the Internet.  Competitors include Napster and Morpheus. (Don’t know what Kazaa means, the founders haven’t ever commented.)  Originally developed by Janus Friis, Niklas Zennstrom and Priit Kasesalu (all of whom created Skype and, later, Joost) the software was accused from its inception of installing adware and spyware onto users’ computers including Cydor, B3D, Altnet, InstaFinder, TopSearch and, to name a few instances.  The Kazaa website was discontinued in August, 2012.

keller, mary kennethKELLER, MARY KENNETH: A nun, a Sister of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, an order dedicated to education, also a chair of the Clarke College Computer Science department for some 20 years.   helped develop BASIC as a graduate student, receiving a Ph.D. from the Computer Sciences Department of the Univ. of Wisconsin in June, 1965.  This tied her for the place of the first doctorate of computer science ever awarded, along with Irving C. Tang, who received his at Washington University in St. Louis that same month.

Kerberos logoKERBEROS (TOKEN):   An authentication method developed at MIT and an integral part of Windows 2000 and up Active Directory implementations.  Named after the three-headed dog from Greek mythology, Kerberos has three heads (the Key Distribution Center, the client user and the server) and allows the user to obtain authentication by using a time stamped “token” or “ticket” for access to the server.  There is also a special type of Kerberos token called a “Golden Ticket (or Token),” distinguished by a life of ten years.  This is not good, because it can allow a “golden ticket” attack using a forged Kerberos “key distribution center,” which effectively allows hackers to create usable Kerberos tickets for user/computer/service accounts that may not even exist in the Windows Active Directory for ten full years.  Effectively, the bad guys will now control your computer, and can change all security and domain settings just like an administrator.

KERNEL: The kernel is a program that is the central core of a computer’s operating system (“O/S”).  Every O/S (e.g. Unix, Linux, OS X, Windows) has it’s own unique kernel.  The kernel has complete control over everything that occurs in the system, and it is always the first part of the O/S to load into memory during boot (i.e. system startup).   The kernel is loaded in its own protected memory area, so that it can’t be easily overwritten, and it performs its tasks in kernel space, unlike those tasks done by a user, which are done separately in user space. It connects the hardware layer to the application layer of the software in the OSI model. The kernel’s job is to manage the devices, processes, files and I/O in the computer itself, interacting with user commands.   Because it’s at the center of everything, it’s also the most vulnerable, hence the object of malware and virus attacks.   This includes the CPU and memory and how the applications communicate with these devices.  For example, when a computer program or process makes requests of the kernel, it’s called a “system call”.  That’s how the basic services for the O/S are managed by the kernel.  When your computer “crashes” it is the kernel that has crashed, usually requiring reboot.

How the kernel manages system calls and other resources varies both with  design and by O/S  (PCs, Macs, Linux and Unix all have different kernels for each version of their O/Ss), but each generally contains a scheduler, a supervisor, an interrupt handler and a memory managerThere are four broad categories of kernels: The most common, monolithic type kernel has one component into which all of the programs “call”.  The second, more fragmented and difficult to write, is a “microkernel” where each component of the kernel is a separate program, all communicating with each other.  So, for example, you would send a message to the file system component to access a file, send a message to the memory management component to access memory, or send a message to the network component for access to the Internet.  Linux and BSD are examples of monolithic kernels.  Hurd is a microkernel. Apple’s OS X is a hybrid kernel, because the programs use microkernel to communicate between the kernel and each other, but the kernel itself is still one monolithic process.  Exokernel is a kernel developed by MIT specifically for use with parallel operating systems, where communication speed is paramount.

What a kernel isn’t: A kernel is not the same as a shell, the outermost part of an O/S which directly interacts with user commands, because the kernel itself interacts with the shell to control the O/S.  Nor is it the BIOS, which is permanently encoded on a motherboard chip, while the kernel can be modified.

KEY: Keys are used in many computer definitions, not just to refer to (1) a part of the keyboard.  The Windows Registry (2) contains 6 “Keys” that store important information about your computer’s hardware and software configuration.  Also, an encryption key (3) is the string sequence of characters used to encrypt or decrypt data. Some programs have a physical key (4) that is a connector between the printer cable and the computer or the keyboard cable and the computer, without which access to a particular program will not be granted.

KEYBOARD:      An input device which uses typewriter-type keys  (called “keycaps”) to deliver text and commands to the computer.  Click HERE for lots more about keyboards.

KEYPAD: The ubiquitous square pad with 12 keys used on calculators, entry locks, ATMs and tons of other devices.  Developed by John Karlin, above.

KEYFILE: A  type of password used with encryption, which uses the first 1,024 characters of a file as the password.  For more, see PASSWORDS; also encryption.

KEY PUNCH CARD: See, punch card.

KEYSTROKE: Each key depression on a keyboard.  Often, efficiency of various computer operations is measured in keystrokes, the less the more efficient.

KEYWORD: A word or phrase, usually used with a web browser or web site, which lists other pages on the web or in the site where one can find the desired information.  A “word” is the “key” to the relevant information.

KICKSTAND: Like the kickstand on bicycles, a fkickstandeature on tablets that uses a wing that folds out from the back of the device (rather than a hinge like that used on laptops) to hold the screen up for viewing.

Kik logoKIK: See Messaging Services.

KILL SWITCH: A software feature that allows someone to shut down [i.e. “kill”] a device remotely.  It’s common for cell phones (shut them down if they’re stolen), laptop computers and other devices.

KIM DOTCOM: The high-living creator and owner of, pursued by U.S. and New Zealand authorities for illegal file sharing of copyrighted data.  See Megaupload for more.

KIN: A family of cell phones sold by Microsoft between only April and July 2010 through Verizon Wireless.  It was discontinued after only 48 days due to poor sales.

KINDLE: An electronic book (e-book) reader promoted by Amazon, essentially a notepad computer onto which various books can be loaded and synchronized between devices, all over a wireless network.  There’s also a new, improved Kindle 2 and the cheaper “AdverKindle”! But digital books can sometimes be deleted, without notice, as was done with two George Orwell novels in July, 2009, when Amazon discovered that they had sold digital copies of the books obtained from a supplier which had no legal right to the books.  They just “disappeared” from the eBook (although purchasing customers did receive a credit).  Bet you’re glad they can’t do that with the bound books in your home.  Why the name Kindle?  Amazon isn’t saying, but the word can mean to start a fire or light a torch, also to arouse or inspire (into reading more, of course).  Makes sense.  The third definition, a collective term for a group of kittens, makes less sense.  Sony also makes its own eBook digital book reader, as does Barnes and Noble (the “Nook”) and others are sure to follow.  The name and logo were developed by Michael Cronan.  For more, click HERE.

KINECT: An X-Box 360 add-on which, by locking onto people and following their voices and motions, eliminates many of the myriad buttons used on game controllers, allowing users to move on-screen just as they do in front of it.  Introduced in late 2010.

KIOSK MODE: A feature in the Windows operating system that can be enabled to set up a computer that only runs one application or program for a specific task.  It is often used, for example, when a laptop is set up in an office to run only one program or for a laptop presentation for sales or reservations.

KISS: A new technology from Silicon Valley startup Keyssa CEO Tony Fadell, father of the iPod, which will boost wireless transfer speeds between devices, handling rates up to 6Gb/sec via EHF waves when two devices are held about a centimeter apart.  But it’ll require devices to be equipped with special hardware.

KLIP: An Apple app developed by Alan Rossman, a former Apple developer of the Macintosh, which is like a photo version of Twitter, allowing sharing of minute-or-less videos.  Available from the App Store.

Klout logoKLOUT SCORE: An online service that measures your “social media influence” and assigns it a numeric score between numbers  1 and Klout score100.  The theory is that when you recommend, share and create content, you impact others in the social network.  Klout uses three different metrics (network influence, amplification probability and true reach) across 10 social media networks to measure impact.  Started in beta version in 2011.

KNOX: A set of business focused enhancements to the Android mobile environment for selected Samsung mobile devices.  KNOX provides the ability for all KNOX devices to be joined, secured and managed by a Microsoft Active Directory infrastructure, which includes devices to be centrally controlled by Microsoft Group Policy, used by most enterprises.

KOOBFACE: The name of a Trojan worm virus which infected FaceBook (also MySpace, Bebo, Friendster, MyYearbook and Blackplanet) users in 2008 and 2009.  The virus comes through an e-mail purportedly from one of your friends inviting you to view a video.  Once the URL is clicked, you are prompted to update your Flash player before the video can be displayed.  If this is supposedly done, the virus is loaded onto your computer and the work transforms your machine into a zombie computer on a botnet, which is then used to infect other computers.  See, Spyware.

KOPIMISM: A Swedish “religion”  [The Missionary Church of Kopomism],  fIsak Gerson photoounded about 2010, by Isak Gerson (photo at left), at that time a 19 year old philosophy student, which advocates the principal of “copy and seed,” meaning that copying and distributing all information is a virtue.  Their mantra:  “All Knowledge Tkopimi logo2o All”.  It is a call (the name itself a sound-alike of “copy me”) to download files and make them available for endless duplication and file sharing in the name of intellectual freedom.  Their various logos are displayed at right.   Sweden recognizes Kopimi logovirtually any religion (although even Gerson had to apply three times to be accepted), so it’s a pretty low bar.  Despite reports, Gerson denies any association with Pirate Bay or its owner.  Click HERE for the U.S. website.

Ray Kurzweil photoKurzweil, Ray: (b. 2/12/48) - As one of the leading scientist, thinkers and  inventors of our time, Ray was the principal developer of the first CCD flat-bed scanner, the first omni-font optical character recognition (“OCR”), the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind, the first text-to-speech The Singularity is Nearsynthesizer, the first music synthesizer capable of recreating the grand piano and other orchestral instruments, and the first commercially marketed large-vocabulary speech recognition, used on many cell phones. Ray’s web site,, has over one million readers.  He has also lectured about The Singularity, and written a book on the subject in 2005 “The Singularity is Near:When Humans Transcend Biology” which expanded on his two previous books “The Age of Spiritual Machines (1999)” and “The Age of Intelligent Machines” (1990).

KVM: Keyboard-Video-Mouse.  This acronym refers to a hardware switch that connects a single keyboard, video and mouse for several computers, so that a click of a button will enable a user to switch betwkvm switcheen them, seeing each computer on the same monitor, controlling them with the same mouse and keyboard, as if each computer was physically present.  They can be physically connected (for controlling more than one computer at a desk, for example) or even over IP (so a network administrator can control whole networks of computers from a remote location.  Microsoft also has come up with software known as “Mouse Without Borders,”  which does the same thing with software.  Click HERE for the YouTube video showing how it works, and HERE for the discussion in the TechNet blog.  Or just look at the diagram:





























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