Language of Computers – Binary

The digital computer is a digital system that performs various computational tasks.

Generally the word digital means:

  • recording or showing information in the form of numbers, esp. 0 and 1
  • showing information as whole numbers rather than in another form such as a picture, graph, etc.
  • of relating to, or using calculation by numerical methods or by discrete units (different, unique, and separate units).

The decimal digits 0, 1, 2, …, 9, for example, provide 10 discrete values.

Here the word digital implies a system that can be used by a computer and other electronic equipment, in which information is sent and received in electronic form as a series of the numbers 1 and 0

The first electronic digital computers, developed in the late 1940s, were used primarily for numerical computations. In this case, the discrete elements are the digits (ie., 0, 1,2…9). From this application, the term digital computer has emerged.

In practice, digital computers function more reliably if only two values are used.


Computers don’t understand words or numbers the way we humans do. In the end, everything in the computer is represented by a binary electrical signal that registers data in one of two states: ON or OFF

Any instructions you give to the computer gets converted to binary. Later gets stored, processed within the system. Output again will be presented in the format we humans can understand.

This ON or OFF usaually represented with two numbers 0 and 1.

It’s called binary numbers as it has only two numbers in this system.

Digital computers use the binary number system, which has two digits: 0 and 1. A binary digit is called a bit. 

In digital computers, information is represented in groups of bits.

  • A group of eight bits is called a byte.
  • Most computer memories use words whose number of bits is a multiple of 8.
  • Thus a 16-bit word contains two bytes, and
  • a 32-bit word is made up of four bytes.

It is customary to refer to the number of words (or bytes) in a memory with one of the letters

1 KB (kilobyte) is 210 = 1024 bytes,

1 MB (megabyte) is 220 = 1024 Kilo bytes,

1 GB (gigabyte) is 230 = 1024 Mega bytes, etc.,

By using various coding techniques, groups of bits can be made to represent not only binary numbers but also other discrete symbols, such as decimal digits or letters of the alphabet.

By judicious use of binary arrangements and by using various coding techniques, the groups of bits are used to develop complete sets of instructions for performing various types of computations.

In contrast to the common decimal numbers that employ the base 10 system, binary numbers use a base 2 system with two digits: 0 and 1.

The decimal equivalent of a binary number can be found by expanding it into a power series with a base of 2.

For example, the binary number 1001011 represents a quantity that can be converted to a decimal number by multiplying each bit by the base 2 raised to an integer power as follows:

binary base positions26=6425=3224=1623=822=421=220=1
given binary number1001011
multiply base positions with the respective binary digit1×64=640x32=00x16=01×8=80x4=01×2=21×1 =1

Total sum is 64+0=0+8+0+2+1 = 75

Thus the seven bits 1001011 represent a binary number whose decimal equivalent is 75.

However, this same group of seven bits represents the letter K when used in conjunction with a binary code for the letters of the alphabet.

It may also represent a control code for specifying some decision logic in a particular digital computer.

In other words, groups of bits in a digital computer are used to represent many different things.

This is similar to the concept that the same letters of an alphabet are used to construct different languages, such as English and French.

Similarly, first few decimal equivalent for binary is given below.



Memory and binary data

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