Part of the Computing fundamentals glossary:

In general usage, zap (noun) is spiciness, kick, or a powerful force. Dishes with chili pepper have zap. This term may be traceable to a comic book convention in which the hurling of an electronic beam or bolt of electricity by a hero (or anti-hero) using a ray gun is often accompanied by a sound balloon that says "ZAP!!!" The term is also used in Paintball and in some computer games.

In information technology, zap has several meanings:

1) In programming, a zap (noun) is a precise and immediate correction for a computer code problem. Most proprietary software programs are distributed to customers as compiler code in the form of an unreadable string of computer binary digit s. When a bug is detected after the software is released, the only way to fix the already compiled code is to overlay the bad code with a sequence of good code. This overlaying is known as zapping and the fix itself is a zap. IBM provides its mainframe software customers with a special program for applying zaps that is called SuperZap .

2) In computers, to zap (verb) can also mean to erase or get rid of something. On a Macintosh computer, to "zap the PRAM" is to erase PRAM so that the system can rebuild its contents. (See parameter RAM for this procedure.)

3) Relative to computer hardware, to zap (verb) can mean to ruin something electrically. Thus, a power surge when you don't have a surge protector can zap a computer's electronic components.

This was last updated in November 2005
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

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