KarbosGuide.com. Module 1a.

About data

  • Next page
  • Previous page

  • Our PCs are data processors. The PC's function is simple: to process data, and the processing is done electronically inside the CPU and between the other components. That sounds simple, but what is data, and how is it processed electronically in a PC? That is the subject of these pages.

    Analog data

    The signals, which we send each other to communicate, is data. Our daily data have many forms: sound, letters, numbers, and other characters (handwritten or printed), photos, graphics, film. All this data is in its nature analog, which means that it varies in type. In this form, the data-signals are unusable in a PC. The PC can only process concise, simple data formats. Such data can be processed very effectively.

    Digital data

    The PC is an electric unit. Therefore, it can only deal with data, which are associated with electricity. That is accomplished using electric switches, which are either off or on. You can compare with regular household switches. If the switch is off, the PC reads numeral 0. If it is on, it is read as numeral one. See the illustration below:

    With our electric switches, we can write 0 or 1. We can now start our data processing!

    The PC is filled with these switches (in the form of transistors). There are literally millions of those in the electronic components. Each represents either a 0 or a 1, so we can process data with millions of 0s and 1s.


    Each 0 or 1 is called a bit. Bit is an abbreviation of the expression BInary digiT. It is called binary, since it is derived from the binary number system:

    1 bit
    1 bit
    4 bit
    8 bit

    The binary number system

    The binary number system is made up of digits, just like our common decimal system (10 digit system). But, while the decimal system uses digits 0 through 9, the binary system only uses digits 0 and 1.

    If you are interested in understanding the binary number system, then here is a brief course. See if you can follow the system. See how numbers are constructed in the binary system, using only 0s and 1s:

    Numbers, as known in the decimal-system
    Same numbers in binary system

    Digital data

    We have seen that the PC appears capable of handling data, if it can receive them as 0s and 1s. This data format is called digital. If we can translate our daily data from their analog format to digital format, they will appear as chains of 0s and 1s, then the PC can handle them.

    So, we must be able to digitize our data. Pour text, sounds, and pictures into a funnel, from where they emerge as 0s and 1s:

    Let us see how this can be accomplished.

  • Next page
  • Previous page

    Learn more

    Read more about the boot process and system bus in Module 2b

    Read more about I/O buses in module 2c

    Read more about the motherboard chip set in module 2d

    Read more about RAM in module 2e

    Read about EIDE in module 5b

    [Main page]
    [Karbo's Dictionary]
    [The Software Guides]

    Copyright (c) 1996-2005 by Michael B. Karbo. www.karbosguide.com.