backward compatibility

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backward compatibility

[¦bak·wərd kəm‚pad·ə′bil·əd·ē]
(computer science)
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

backward compatibility

Able to share data or commands with older versions of itself, or sometimes other older systems, particularly systems it intends to supplant. Sometimes backward compatibility is limited to being able to read old data but does not extend to being able to write data in a format that can be read by old versions.

For example, WordPerfect 6.0 can read WordPerfect 5.1 files, so it is backward compatible. It can be said that Perl is backward compatible with awk, because Perl was (among other things) intended to replace awk, and can, with a converter, run awk programs.

See also: backward combatability.

Compare: forward compatible.
This article is provided by FOLDOC - Free Online Dictionary of Computing (

backward compatible

Hardware or software that is compatible with earlier versions of the product. Also called "downward compatible." Contrast with forward compatible.
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References in periodicals archive ?
* Backward-compatibility with full-speed USB2.0 and USB1.1.
Media removability and backward-compatibility dramatically reduce the need for frequent data migration, helping optical storage achieve an exceptionally low Total Cost of Ownership, as low as one-tenth the cost of competing technology solutions.
Offering an expanded feature set, Themis' new USPIIe-cPCI boards maintain I/O and software backward-compatibility with Sun Microsystems cPCI family, designed to provide a low-risk migration path to higher performance and switched-Ethernet systems architectures.
Due to the slow adoption of new bus technology and the uncertainty in the industry over a predominant bus, bridge products are emerging as a viable solution for instrument control and connectivity Bridge products allow users to transparently convert from one bus type to another, thus taking advantage of the latest technology while maintaining backward-compatibility
Full backward-compatibility ensures a smooth, "no risk" migration to the latest SCSI technology.
9.1GB and 1.3GB, respectively, are the end of the line for magnetooptic systems as presently constituted-that is, with full backward-compatibility. The future of optical disk technology, I believe, lies with phase-change: specifically CDRW at the low-capacity end, and DVD-recordables at the high end.
The backward-compatibility feature of Super DLT may well be the deal-maker for many remarketers.
So it seems to me that Olympus is simply trying to sell a "next" or "second" camera to people who already have experience with one and I say this because the issue of investment protection through backward-compatibility is a perennial in the trade press.
On the other hand, ARM-based computers will not have such backward-compatibility, because the architecture of ARM is different from that of Windows' x86.