What is binary code and who uses it?

Binary code might seem like a really complex and confusing idea, but those well-versed in computers will likely find it easy to understand. The basic idea is that all computer language is based on binary code in some way. What this essentially means is that there is a code of 0 or 1 for a computer to use, and move between in order to function and carry out instructions.

At the most basic level, binary code is text that is used to give a computer instructions, and this is done using a two-symbol system. Consecutive zeros and ones make up the system of digits that form binary code, and the combinations of this code are interpreted and understood by the computer and is a cornerstone of the world of IT. So, let’s take a closer look at what exactly binary code is and how and why computers use it.

How to count in binary

Counting in binary code can be tricky because it doesn’t work in the same way as counting using regular numbers. To get decimals with binary code, we use the rule that the first digit is worth 1 in decimal places. This is then doubled for each consecutive digit and decimal place, so the second digit equates to 2 decimal places, the third to 4, the fourth to 8, etc. This means that four binary bits would have a potential of 16 possible values. Confusing, right? But you soon get the hang of it!

Why do computers use binary?

This is the pressing question, and it is one that many have pondered for a long while. The basic idea here is that it is as a result of hardware and the laws of physics. Back at the inception of computing, it was more difficult to measure and determine electrical signals accurately. This is why it was much easier to operate with the more rudimentary approach, and this has pretty much stuck over time. Of course, things have evolved significantly over time, and modern machines now use what is known as a transistor to allow them to make more complex binary calculations in the future.

Gottfried Leibniz

Some people will probably be familiar with the name Gottfried Leibniz as he is considered by many to be the Godfather of Calculus. Leibniz is also one of the men credited with coming up with the code of logic that would evolve into the binary code computers today use. He derived a system of logic for verbal statements that was represented by mathematical code. Postulating that communication (and life) could be represented by simple combinations of ones and zeros, he effectively created the code that would eventually evolve into binary.

So, there is a quick history lesson surrounding the development of binary code, how it might have come about, and why computers use it. Binary is one of the most important parts in the world of IT and has developed as technology has grown. It’s a code that has allowed us to talk to our machines over the years, and ensure they carry out our commands.