backward compatibility

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backward compatibility

[¦bak·wərd kəm‚pad·ə′bil·əd·ē]
(computer science)

backward compatibility

(jargon)
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.
References in periodicals archive ?
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.