(n) Indicates that a product can work with or is equivalent to another, better-known product. The term is often used as a shorthand for IBM-compatible PC, a computer that is compatible with an IBM PC. Another term for a compatible is clone.
(adj) The ability of one device or program to work with another device or program. The term compatible implies different degrees of partnership. For example, a printer and a computer are said to be compatible if they can be connected to each other. An IBM compatible PC, on the other hand, is a computer that can run the same software as an IBM PC.
Compatibility of two devices, such as printers, usually means that they react to software commands in the same way. Some printers achieve compatibility by tricking the software into believing that the printer is a different machine. This is called emulation.
Be aware, however, that hardware compatibility does not always extend to expansion slots. For example, two compatible printers may not accept the same font cartridges. Complete hardware compatibility is denoted by the term plug compatible.
Software products are compatible if they use the same data formats. For example, many programs are compatible with dBASE. This means that the files they produce can easily be transformed into a dBASE database or that they can import dBASE files.