Understanding Binary Data

0 and 255
binary data
8 bits
least significant
text files
most significant
The key electronic component that you will find in any computer system is called a . The CPU of a computer contains billions of transistors. A transistor is an electronic switch that can be turned on (1) or off (0). This is the reason why computers can only process also called digital data.

Binary data is made of (short for binary digits) of data: 0s and 1s. Everything that is stored on a computer must be in binary form. This includes, numbers, , images, sound files and video clips.

So let’s start with numbers: Using of data you can form a : For instance is a Byte of data. A Byte of data can be used to represent any denary number between . You can easily convert a denary number into binary and vice versa using the following conversion table:

Using this conversion table, you can see that the bit on the left is the bit and is worth 128, whereas the bit on hr right is the bit as it is only worth 1.

You will hence notice that in Binary an number will always have 1 as its least significant bit, whereas an number will always have 0 as its least significant bit.

To make a number higher than 255, you will need to use extra bits, added to the left of this conversion table. e.g. Using 9 bits instead of 8 would allow you to store numbers up to , and using 2 Bytes (16 bits) would allow you to store numbers from 0 to

Now that you understand how numbers can be stored into binary, you can investigate further how text files, images and sound files can also be stored in binary:

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