Cn – Cz

Coalition of Planets

See United Federation of Planets.

 

Coaxial cable

A type of copper cable used by cable companies to connect the community antenna to user homes and businesses.  Coaxial cable was nvented and patented in 1880 by English engineer and mathematician Oliver Heaviside.  It is called “coaxial” because it includes one physical channel that carries the signal, surrounded (after a layer of insulation) by another concentric physical channel, both running along the same axis.  The outer channel serves as a ground.  Coaxial cable provides an interference-free transmission path for high-frequency electrical signals.  Once prevalent in computers, but later mostly replaced by digital links such as Ethernet, coaxial cables are used to carry signals from a central office to telephone poles and by cable TV providers for service in communities.

 

COBOL

A well-known acronym for “COmmon Business-Oriented Language,” COBOL was the first widely-used high-level programming language for business applications, and the second-oldest high-level programming language (after FORTRAN).  It evolved in the 1940s from the pioneering work of Rear Admiral Grace Hopper, who felt it was important to have a programming language that resembled natural English, so it could be easy to write and read.  Further developed in the late 1950s and early ‘60s, COBOL was designed by The Short Range Committee for exclusive use in mainframe computers in business applications.  While programs written in COBOL tended to be much longer than the same programs written in other languages, they were also easier to understand.  Despite being disparaged by many programmers as outdated, COBOL is still the most widely used programming language in the world.  Like any other programming language, COBOL uses keyword and construct syntax based on natural language.  Three primary versions of COBOL were approved by American National Standards Institute (ANSI): COBOL-68 (composed of basic language with keywords and constructs), COBOL-74 (which included additional features not present in 68), and COBOL-85 (composed of user-defined and object-oriented extensions to COBOL-74).  The subsequent COBOL-2002 edition varied largely from its predecessors.  Designed for business and financial applications, this high-level programming language evolved from three main languages: FLOW-MATIC, COMTRAN and FACT.  COBOL programs are highly portable, and can be used in conjunction with a wide variety of hardware and software packages.  Despite the growing popularity of more modern programming languages such as Java, C++ and .NET, a majority of payroll, accounting and other business application programs still use COBOL, which has more existing lines of programming code still in use today than any other programming language.

 

Collins, Barnabas

The central character in the 1966-71 daytime serial Dark Shadows, Barnabas Collins is a vampire, born in 1770 in the town of Collinsport, Maine.  In the early 1790s, he was cursed by a witch, and told that he would never rest.  Shortly after her curse, a large bat attacked him, and Barnabas soon died, only to awaken with the cursed soul of a vampire.  He was put into a coffin that was chained shut, then hidden in a secret room, so that he could not harm anyone else, and there he stayed until 1967, when he was accidentally released.  Barnabas donned modern clothing and introduced himself to the current family living at Collinwood as a descendant of the original Barnabas Collins.  Unable to resist his unholy appetites, but repentant of them, he soon worked tirelessly to seek a cure for his affliction.  Intelligent and manipulative, yet charismatic and passionate, Barnabas was well liked by his family and friends.  Although capable of great kindness, he could also be quite vindictive.

Collins was portrayed in the original soap opera by Jonathan Frid, in a short-lived 1991 weekly TV revival series by Ben Cross, and in a 2012 motion picture by Johnny Depp.

 

Comics Code Authority

A strict code of content guidelines for comic book writers, created in the 1950s by publishers who were seeking to diffuse negative publicity against the comic book industry.  After World War II, readership dwindled for popular superhero titles such as Superman, Wonder Woman, and The Spirit, and many comic lines turned to gory true-life stories or tales of horror and the supernatural.  Citing “immoral” content such as scantily clad women and the glorification of criminals, protestors rallied against the industry on the grounds that comics were negative influences on children.  Dr. Fredric Wertham, a noted New York City psychiatrist, campaigned to ban the sales of comics to children, arguing that children imitated the actions of comic book characters and that the content desensitized children to violence.  The 1954 publication of his book Seduction of the Innocent prompted the U.S. Senate to hold hearings on comic books’ influences, after which the Senate called for the comics industry to develop a system of self-regulation, in order to keep violent titles out of young hands.  The Code’s 41 provisions purged sex, violence and any other questionable content.  The imposition of the Comic Book Code bankrupted many of the horror and crime publishers, and many of the artists and writers left the business for good.  The most notable failure was E.C. Comics, which lost every title but one, MAD, which Gaines republished as MAD Magazine to avoid the Code.

In 1971, Marvel Comics defied the Comics Code Authority, publishing a Spider-Man story arc about drug abuse.  According to CMAA files, Marvel had asked for permission to publish the special issues, but was denied.  The request, however, triggered a review of the code. Revisions were crafted in December 1970, and publishers agreed the new code would go into effect on Feb. 1, 1971.  Representing Marvel. Charles Goodman promised that after publication of the Spider-Man issues (cover-dated May-July 1971), the company would not publish any comics without obtaining the Seal of Approval.  The 1971 code relaxed the restrictions on crime comics and lifted the ban on horror comics.  Still, DC Comics indicated it was considering eliminating the Seal of Approval from its books, arguing the 1971 code was an embarrassment and a hindrance to the creative talent of artists and writers.  As a result, the CMAA drafted a two-part document that met DC’s demands for broad guidelines.  The “Principles of the Comics Code Authority” contained general statements about violence, language and other areas of concern.  The second part, “Editorial Guidelines,” listed specific rules for each of the content areas.  The CMAA forbade the release of this internal document to the public.

In 2001, Marvel withdrew from the Comics Code Authority in favor of an in-house rating system.  By 2011, only the Archie and DC lines printed the Seal of Approval on their covers.  DC announced in January 2011 it was dropping the Seal of Approval, and Archie soon followed.

 

Commodore VIC-20

One of the first computer lines sold on television for home use, and the first computer to sell over 1 million units, the Commodore VIC-20 plugged into a home television set.  Original sold for under $300, the VIC-20 would eventually become first color home computer for under $100.  From today’s standards, the computer’s capacity is a bit comical: the amount of free memory (3,583 bytes) was roughly equivalent to the number of characters a user could type on one sheet of paper!  Still, the VIC-20 was advanced for its time, with a cartridge drive that gave it a plug-and-play usability that was much faster than loading software from the tape drive.  The “VIC” in the name stood for “Video Interface Chip,” which was originally designed to be used in arcade machines.  When it didn’t sell, the computer was built around the chip.  No one is exactly sure what the “20” stood for, or if it just sounded good to the manufacturer.

 

Common Business Oriented Language

See COBOL.

 

Common Era (C.E./CE)

Used interchangeably with “Annus Domini” (“year of the Lord”) or “A.D.,” the calendar term is preferred by many because it removes any religious points of reference.  It has been found in English writings as far back as 1708.  The Latin term “vulgaris aerae” (“vulgar era”) was used interchangeably with “Christian era” as far back as in the 1600s.

 

Communicator

The standard shore-to-ship and crew-to-crew communications device when away from the Enterprise and other starships, the communicator was a mainstay of Starfleet in the Star Trek universe.  Somewhat of a precursor to the modern “flip-style” cellular phone, the original design featured an antenna grille, frequency dials, and a central combination speaker/microphone.  With the release of Star Trek: The Next Generation, which took place approximately 100 years after the events of the original series, the hand-held model had been replaced by a touch-activated chest badge.

 

Computer

At the simplest level, a computer can be defined as an electronic machine that can store and manipulate or work with large amounts of data.  Over the years, there have been many types of computers with a broad range of capabilities and differences.  As the name reveals, it is a machine to be used to compute, or calculate, mathematical problems (and in fact, a calculator is a computer by this definition), but modern computers, also called “word processors,” are mainly used as storage-and-retrieval units for information, and the production of written work.  With the advent of the internet, personal computers are now commonly used for the gathering of information from sources all over the world.

 

Conan

The character of Conan, created by Robert E. Howard, made his first appearance in December 1932, in an issue of the magazine Weird Tales.  Howard sold quite a number of stories to Weird Tales and other publications before he committed suicide in 1936, but Conan was his most enduring creation.  During Howard’s lifetime, he sold 17 Conan stories to Weird Tales (“Red Nails,” the final Conan story to appear in Weird Tales, was published posthumously), and in the years that followed, a number of his unpublished Conan stories found their way to print, and several authors – most notably L. Sprague de Camp – completed Howard’s unfinished tales and brought those to print.  Since then, Conan has appeared in books, comics, black-and-white illustrated magazines, comic strips, movies, live-action TV, cartoons, video games, RPGs, and figurines.  The character is still going strong today, all thanks to some 17 stories published by Howard in the space of four years.

While there’s no debating his barbarian aspect, Conan is far from stupid, as written in Howard’s original tales.  In his first published Conan tale, “The Phoenix on the Sword,” Conan is in his forties, and has already become king of Aquilonia, the greatest nation of The Hyborian Age.  In the first scene of this premiere tale, Conan is filling in the missing spaces on a map.

A barbarian who kills, drinks, wenches and carouses, before becoming king, Conan was also general of this country’s armies, the greatest fighting force in that known world.  He still has the military mind that led the revolt which allowed him to wrest the jeweled crown of Aquilonia from the mad king Numedides.  Howard and H.P. Lovecraft exchanged a series of renowned letters that debated the virtues of barbarism vs. civilization, and Howard’s predominant theme of the triumph of barbarism over civilization shows the reader a certain noble beauty in the simple ways of the barbarian, which are presented in certain ways as superior to the decadence of the civilized world.

 

Conn

As a verb, to steer a ship.  As a noun, the action of conning a ship, or the physical post where conning occurs.

 

Cookie

A small amount of data generated by a website and saved by the web browser on your computer, in order to remember information about you.  While cookies serve many functions, their most common purpose is to store log-in information for a specific site, saving a user’s username and/or password.  Cookies are also used to store user preferences for a specific site.  If a website needs to store a lot of personal information, it may use a cookie to remember who you are, but will load the information from the web server. This method, called “server-side storage,” is often used when you create an account on a website.

There are two types of browser cookies: “session” and “persistent.”  Session cookies are temporary and are deleted when the browser is closed. These types of cookies are often used by e-commerce sites to store items placed in your shopping cart, and can serve many other purposes, as well.  Persistent cookies are designed to store data for an extended period of time.  Each persistent cookie is created with an expiration date, which may be anywhere from a few days to several years in the future.  Once the expiration date is reached, the cookie is automatically deleted.  Persistent cookies are what allow websites to “remember you” for two weeks, one month, or any other amount of time.

 

Cool World

Four years after the release of Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, this similar-looking Ralph Bakshi live-action/animated film was released in 1992.  In it, World War II vet Frank Harris (Brad Pitt) is inexplicably transported to Cool World, a rough-and-tumble animated city.  Forty-seven years later, cartoonist-turned-convict Jack Deebs (Gabriel Byrne) creates the highly acclaimed comic book series Cool World – featuring the femme fatale Holli Would (Kim Basinger) – while behind bars. Once he’s released, Holli summons Jack into the real Cool World in an effort to become human.

 

Coon, Gene L.

Referred to as “the spirit and soul of Star Trek,” the creator of the Klingons, Khan Noonien Singh and The Prime Directive was born Gene Lee Coon on January 7, 1924 in Nebraska.  He served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the Pacific (1942-46) and in Korea (1950-52), then, after leaving the service, Coon worked as a radio newscaster before getting into freelance writing in Hollywood.  From 1956 to 1962, he worked on scripts for Dragnet, Wagon Train, Maverick and Bonanza.  In the early ‘60s, he turned McHale’s Navy from a one-hour drama into a successful 30-minute sitcom.  Joining the Star Trek production team after the first 13 episodes, Coon is credited with adding a great deal of fun and humor to a series that some felt creator Gene Roddenberry was taking too seriously.  While creating the now-famous Spock-McCoy banter, Coon also injected timely (and timeless) messages on serious topics like racism into scripts for the show’s first two seasons.  He contributed uncredited rewrites for the latter half of the second season, then contributed some scripts to its third season under the pen name Lee Cronin.  He penned the script for the episode “The Devil in the Dark” in the course of a single weekend, and worked as a writer or line producer on many episodes, including “Arena,” “Space Seed,” “A Taste of Armageddon,” “The City of the Edge of Forever,” “Mirror, Mirror” and “The Doomsday Machine.”  He left Star Trek in March 1968 to work as writer/producer on It Takes A Thief, but continued to write several more Trek episodes under the pseudonym “Lee Cronin” in order to fulfill his contract with Paramount.  In the meantime, he also founded one of the first “cartridge TV” video companies, UniTel Associates.  Coon passed away in Los Angeles on July 8, 1973.

 

Coriolanus

Shakespearean drama centered around war hero Caius Martius, who treats the downtrodden Roman citizens with contempt.  When Martius plays a major role in capturing the Volsce city of Corioles, he is given the honorary title of Coriolanus.  Returning to Rome, he finds himself nominated for a consulship, but a few senators portray him as the people’s enemy, and the citizens retract their support for him.  Instead, he is accused of treason and banished.  Coriolanus offers his services to his former enemy Aufidius, and he is made welcome by the Volsces.  When Coriolanus’ popularity grows among the Volscians, Aufidius’ meets with a group of conspirators, and Coriolanus is once again called a traitor.  He is killed by Aufidius, who immediately regrets his actions, and prepares a noble funeral.  A big-screen adaptation of Coriolanus was released in 2011 starring Ralph Fiennes (who also directed) and Gerard Butler.

 

CPU

See Central Processing Unit.

 

Crimethink

See Thoughtcrime.

 

Crisis on Infinite Earths

DC Comics‘ graphic novel involving two mysterious beings: the Anti-Monitor and the Monitor.  The Monitor quickly assembles a team of super-heroes from across time and space to battle his counterpart and stop the destruction after the Anti-Monitor begins a crusade across time to bring about the end of all existence.  As alternate Earths are systematically destroyed, DC’s greatest heroes, including Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and Aquaman, assemble to stop the menace, but The Flash and Supergirl die in battle, and the heroes begin to wonder if even all of the heroes in the world can stop this destructive force.  This story is said to have changed the DC Universe forever.

 

Crossover

In fiction, and in particular, in comic book and graphic novel series, a story that incorporates characters and plot lines from two separate series into one tale.

 

Cryptography

The science or study of the procedures, processes, methods and techniques of codes and cipher systems.

 

Cthulhu

Cthulhu (pronounced most commonly “kah-thoo-loo” or “kah-thool-hoo”) is a monstrous entity with the facial appearance of an octopus or squid who lies “dead but dreaming” in the city of R’lyeh, a place presently (and mercifully) sunken below the depths of the Pacific Ocean. Cthulhu appears in various monstrous and demonic forms in early myths of the human race. Cthulhu is the high priest of the Great Old Ones, unnatural alien beings who ruled the Earth before humanity formed, worshipped as gods by some misguided people.  The powerful fictional entity was created by H.P. Lovecraft and introduced in the story “The Call of Cthulhu,” which was published in the American pulp magazine Weird Tales in 1928.

 

Cube root

In relation to a given numeric value, the number which, when multiplied by itself three times, equals the given value.  For example, the cube root of 8 is 2 because 2 x 2 x 2 = 8.

 

Cursor

A mark or character or other indicator showing the current active position within an action (writing, scanning, moving) on a computer screen.

 

Cyber

In general, of or relating to computers and computer networks, as in “the cyber marketplace.”  In the realm of chat rooms and instant messages, “cyber” took on the qualities of a verb, where to “cyber” with someone else was to have conversations involving adult and/or sexual topics.

 

Cybercrime

Criminal activity involving the use of the internet, a computer system, or computer technology.

 

Cybercriminal

One who engages in cybercrime.

 

Cyberpunk

  1. A science fiction sub-genre dealing with future urban societies dominated by computer technology
  2. An opportunistic computer hacker.

 

Cyborg

A human whose body contains mechanical and/or electrical parts or devices, giving the person abilities beyond a normal human being.  One well-known example of this in pop culture was the character of Steve Austin in the 1970s TV show “The Six Million Dollar Man.”

 

Cyborg Superman

See Henshaw, Hank.

 

Cyclops

  1. In Greek mythology, a member of a race of one-eyed giants, such as the one encountered by Odysseus in The Odyssey.

 

2. In the Marvel Comics universe, Cyclops is the alter-ego of Scott Summers. First appearing in X-Men #1 in 1963, Cyclops was one of the original mutant members of the X-Men.  Before a plane crashed, tragically killing his parents, Scott and his brother were thrust out, attached to a parachute.  Scott hit his head, putting him into a coma and causing brain damage.  No long able to control his mutant powers, Scott unleashed an uncontrollable blast of optic force that blew a crane apart.  Another blast from Scott saved the nearby crowd, but instead of praise, Scott received their anger and fear as they tried to pursue him.  As a teenager, Scott was sent to a specialist who discovered that lenses made of ruby quartz corrected the problem.  Charles Xavier asked Scott to become the first in his new school for gifted youngsters, which was actually a school/haven for mutants.  When Xavier’s other original recruits left the fold following an encounter with the sentient island-being Krakoa, Cyclops stayed on as deputy leader of the new team.

 

Cylon

In the original 1978-79 television series Battlestar Galactica and its follow-up 1980 series Galactica 1980, the Cylons were originally an intelligent race of serpentlike aliens.  They created super-intelligent robotic “centurions,” programmed to exterminate all humans.  According to the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica (2004-09), Cylons were originally machines created by a human weapons technologist to serve in the military.  The automatons were eventually enslaved by the humans until they rose up in a great rebellion.  During the war that followed, the mechanical Cylons encountered the last five members of a distant, highly evolved race of Cylons, who resembled humans in practically every way.  Several different “models” of these humanoid Cylons were created to infiltrate the enemy, while the metallic Cylons were used as military troops.