command interpreter

Also found in: Acronyms.

command interpreter

[kə′mand ‚in′tər·prə·tər]
(computer science)
A program that processes commands and other input and output from an active terminal in a time-sharing system.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

command interpreter

(operating system)
A program which reads textual commands from the user or from a file and executes them. Some commands may be executed directly within the interpreter itself (e.g. setting variables or control constructs), others may cause it to load and execute other files.

Unix's command interpreters are known as shells.

When an IBM PC is booted BIOS loads and runs the MS-DOS command interpreter into memory from file COMMAND.COM found on a floppy disk or hard disk drive. The commands that COMMAND.COM recognizes (e.g. COPY, DIR, PRN) are called internal commands, in contrast to external commands which are executable files.
This article is provided by FOLDOC - Free Online Dictionary of Computing (

command processor

A system program that accepts instructions from a command line and executes them. For example, COMMAND.COM was the command processor for the 16-bit DOS operating system. It was replaced with CMD.EXE, the 32-bit Windows command processor, which added support for file names longer than eight characters (see 8.3 names). In Unix/Linux, command processors are called "shells" (see bash shell, C shell and Bourne shell). See cmd abc's and command line.
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References in periodicals archive ?
The control system sends commands to the heliostat wirelessly where they are received and sent to the Command Interpreter that feeds them to the heliostat OS.
The Command Interpreter triggers the corresponding actions and changes to the received requests in the kernel (mode changes, calibrations, etc.) and in the parameter repository (value modifications or reading).
Finally, the command interpreter is also in charge of issuing spontaneous messages (not triggered by the control system) of the heliostat OS, such as 'calibration complete' and 'error report'.
Because DOS looks for COMMAND.COM every time it exits a program, you must have it accessible or you will get a message that reads something like "Bad or missing Command Interpreter." Making it available on a hard disk is relatively easy; simply make sure the directory in which it resides is in your PATH.

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