RS-232C is a long-established standard ("C" is the current version) that describes the physical interface and protocol for relatively low-speed serial data communication between computers and related devices. It was defined by an industry trade group, the Electronic Industries Association (EIA), originally for teletypewriter devices.
RS-232C is the interface that your computer uses to talk to and exchange data with your modem and other serial devices. Somewhere in your PC, typically on a Universal Asynchronous Receiver/Transmitter (UART) chip on your motherboard, the data from your computer is transmitted to an internal or external modem (or other serial device) from its Data Terminal Equipment (DTE) interface. Since data in your computer flows along parallel circuits and serial devices can handle only one bit at a time, the UART chip converts the groups of bits in parallel to a serial stream of bits. As your PC's DTE agent, it also communicates with the modem or other serial device, which, in accordance with the RS-232C standard, has a complementary interface called the Data Communications Equipment (DCE) interface.