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PC911 > How-To > Miscellaneous > Understanding the Binary System
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What is the binary system


What is the binary system?

The word "binary" describes a system that has only two possible digits. To understand this, let's first compare this to a system you're probably more familiar with, the Decimal system.

The word "decimal" describes a system that has ten possible digits. These are the digits 0 through 9. Every number expressed in the decimal system is a combination of these ten digits. You use the decimal system every day, it comes naturally, we all have 10 fingers and 10 toes (unless your family tree doesn't fork, but let's not go there), and some of us use those 10 fingers and toes extensively to help with every day addition and subtraction.

The binary system works essentially the same way, with the only difference that it only has two digits. These are visually expressed by the digits 0 and 1. Every number expressed in the binary system is a combination of these two digits.







Why do we need the binary system?

The binary system is essential in technology. The reason is that any electronic circuit can have only two possible states, on or off. A simple example is the light in your room. The switch has only two options, on or off. Another example of a binary system would be Morse code. It also works with only two digits, a dot or a dash. Anything expressed in Morse code is done with these two digits. Electronic circuits work the same way, they are either on or off. And every sequence of these two signals has a certain meaning. Every communication that takes place inside your computer uses this binary system.

How does it work?

If you're not used to them, binary numbers look pretty strange. Here's an example:

1 0 1 0 1 1 1 0

So what is this number in the decimal system? Converting binary numbers to decimal numbers is not that difficult if you know the secret

And the old joke:

There are essential 10 types of people, those who understand binary and those who don't.

Page1: This page
Page 2: The secrets of the binary system
Page 3: Bits vs bytes, some terminology
Page 4: Bus width






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