Understanding the binary system
Why is it that computers only work with zeros and ones? Why can't they work directly with text or images, for example? The answer is that it is rather easy to build circuits that can represent two states. If you have an electrical wire, you can either run electricity through it or not. The flow or no flow of electricity could represent several things, such as on or off, true or false, or zero or one. Let's think of these two states as zero and one for now, with zero representing no electricity flowing and one symbolizing that we do have flow. If we can serve these two states, we could add more wires and, by doing that, have more zeros and ones.
But what could we possibly do with all of these zeros and ones? Well, the answer is that we can do almost anything. For example, with only zeros and ones, we can represent any integer by using the binary numeral system. Let's demonstrate how that works.
To understand binary numbers, we must...