Using digital technology, computers process information by converting it into strings of 0s and 1s. These zeros and ones are known as binary codes for computers.
Each set of 0s and 1s has a specific meaning, with those combinations referring to specific objects, concepts, or identities. This is why computers use zeros and ones: to represent their stored data.
Computers have been using zeros and ones for decades; that’s why they’re such an essential tool in modern society. They aren’t just good at processing information; they’re also very good at storing it forever.
Who knew that something so simple could do so much? Here’s everything you need to know about why computers use zeros and ones.
#What Actually is Binary Code?
The way computers represent information as strings of 0s and 1s is called binary code. Any sequence of ones and zeros is binary code, with each of those 1s and 0s being a unique set of instructions.
Using zeros and ones to represent data may seem like a simple idea, but it’s actually very complex. There are billions of possible combinations, which means that there are billions of different data strings that computers can store.
There are many different ways of representing data as binary code. In the early days of computing, most computers used 8-bit code, which could represent only 4 billion different strings of ones and zeros.
Modern computers use much larger code, allowing for over a trillion different strings. How these code strings are represented depends on the computer, the code format, and the software.
The most common formats are:
- Binary code (“base 2”) uses only 0s and 1s. It is represented by patterns of on/off switches, like the ones inside a computer chip.
- ASCII code (“American Standard Code for Information Interchange”) uses 7 bits to represent 128 different characters. This is the format used on some older computers, like Apple II and Commodore 64. ASCII code is also used on some newer computers, like the Apple Macintosh and Microsoft Windows. –
- Unicode uses 16 bits to represent over 65,000 different characters. This is the format used on modern smartphones, tablets, and computers with a graphical user interface (GUI).
#The Birth of Binary Code
The birth of binary code is a bit cloudy, though it’s clear that it all began with sound. In the 1800s, the first sound recordings were made by Thomas Edison and his team.
These sound recordings used vibrations controlled by a diaphragm to create the data. Since there weren’t yet any electronics to store these sounds, they were used to teach music.
Eventually, engineers discovered how to make these vibrations into electricity, which made it possible to store data on an entirely new scale. Data storage quickly became an essential part of the world of technology.
By the 1930s, scientists had made a breakthrough in the field when they discovered how to store data using a method called “Vitaphone.” This system used 52 pulleys and a spinning disk to move the pulleys and create sound waves.
Later, scientists found a way to store data in a magnetic field, which opened the door to even more complex and sophisticated data storage methods. In the 1960s, the magnetic tape became a popular medium for data storage. This was because it could hold up to two million characters on each reel of tape, which made it ideal for storing large amounts of data.
By the 1970s, computer scientists had developed a way to store data using a process called “magnetic disk.” This method used a hard disk drive to store information on spinning disks. The hard disk could hold up to 5 megabytes of data—which is equal to about 50 pages of text in Microsoft Word.
Today, nearly every technology and piece of machinery in the world uses some form of binary code. This includes computers, phones, cars, and even your toaster. The use of binary code has become so common that we don’t even think about it anymore. However, if you compare today’s technology to what computers looked like in the 1950s and 1960s, it’s hard to believe how far we have come.
#Why Do Computers Use “0” & “1”?
The process of converting strings of 0s and 1s into a meaningful form has become a central part of technology. Using zeros and ones to represent data is one of the most important aspects of computer science.
It allows computers to make sense of the enormous amount of information that humans process every day. The zeros and ones that computers use can be confusing at first, but they’re actually very easy to understand once you get used to them.
There are only two types of objects in the world: ones and zeros, like on or off. Everything else is a combination of those two concepts. It’s as easy as that.
#How Does Binary Code Works In Computers?
When you see a string of 0s and 1s labeled as binary code, you’re actually looking at a specific type of code. This code is made up of groups of zeros and groups of ones, which is how it works.
The zeros and ones in binary code make up strings of 1s and 0s. When computers represent data, they process these strings of ones and zeros and then turn them into a specific type of energy called “electrical energy.”
This energy is stored in special components like transistors and capacitors, which are what allow computers to store and process data. When you send data through a wire or through wireless signals, you’re actually sending “bits.”
These bits are little pieces of information that tell a computer what type of information you want to be stored. When the computer receives these bits, it can turn them into binary code.
Once the bits are turned into code, the computer is able to process them and turn them into electrical energy, which is what allows the computer to work.
The computer may receive a piece of data that tells it to store the information “Hello world!” Before the computer can turn that piece of data into electrical energy, it must turn that information into binary code. Once the computer is able to process the binary code, it can store that information in its memory.
The computer is able to store any type of information in its memory. This includes text documents, photos, videos, and more. When you save a file on your computer or laptop, it saves the data as binary code so that it can be processed by the computer.
The same goes for when you access a file from the internet. When you click on a link and a website opens up in your browser, the data is sent to your computer as binary code. Your computer then processes this information and displays what you see on your screen.
#A Final Note
As you can see, computers rely on zeros and ones as a way to represent data. This code is extremely useful, but it can be difficult to understand at first. That’s why you should prepare yourself for the next step in your computer science journey: learning how to program, which will use zeros and ones to teach you how to code.