Meaning two. The principle behind digital computers. All input to the computer is converted into binary numbers made up of the two digits 0 and 1 (bits). For example, when you press the "A" key on your keyboard, the keyboard circuit generates and transfers the number 01000001 to the computer's memory as a series of pulses with different voltages. The bits are stored as charged and uncharged memory cells or as microscopic magnets on disk and tape. Display screens and printers convert the binary numbers into visual characters.
**Circuits Are Binary**
The electronic circuits that process these binary numbers are also binary in concept. They are made up of on/off switches (transistors) that are electrically opened and closed. The current flowing through one switch turns on (or off) another switch, and so on. These switches open and close in nanoseconds and picoseconds (billionths and trillionths of a second). See Boolean logic.
**Smaller Spots - Faster Switches**
A computer's capability to do work is based on its workspace capacity (memory), storage capacity (disk) and the speed of its circuits. Greater memory and disk capacities are achieved by making the memory cell or magnetic spot smaller. Faster circuit speeds are achieved by shortening the time it takes to open and close the transistor (electronic switch). In order to increase computer performance, we keep improving binary technologies. See binary numbers, binary values, binary file, binary standard and binaries.

### How Binary Numbers Work

Binary numbers are actually simpler than decimal numbers as they use only the digits

**0** and

**1** instead of

**0** through

**9**.

In decimal, when you add

**9** and

**1**, you get

**10**. But, if you break down the steps, you find that by adding

**9** and

**1**, what you get first is a result of

**0** and a carry of

**1**. The carry of

**1** is added to the digits in the next position on the left. In the following example, the carry becomes part of the answer since there are no other digits in that position.
carry--

**1**
**9**
**+ 1**
**____**
**10**
The following example adds

**1** ten times in succession. Note that the binary method has more carries than the decimal method. In binary,

**1** and

**1** are

**0** with a carry of

**1**.

** Binary Decimal**
0 0
+ 1 + 1
____ ____
1 1
+ 1 + 1
____ ____
10 2
+ 1 + 1
____ ____
11 3
+ 1 + 1
____ ____
100 4
+ 1 + 1
____ ____
101 5
+ 1 + 1
____ ____
110 6
+ 1 + 1
____ ____
111 7
+ 1 + 1
____ ____
1000 8
+ 1 + 1
____ ____
1001 9
+ 1 + 1
____ ____
1010 10

**For the True Geek**

This Cadence wristwatch shows the numerals 1 to 12 in binary form. It takes four bits to contain all 12 digits. Note that the number 12 has the 4-bit and 8-bit turned on. (Image courtesy of Cadence Watch Company, www.cadencewatch.com)