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Advantages of Binary 2: Unambiguous Signals

Carving a block of wood into a book page requires high technical and artistic skill. The task is complex and labor intensive. A small mistake might ruin the whole block. The Renaissance woodcarvers were as skilled as woodcarvers ever have been.

Setting type is comparatively easy. Little artistic or technical skill is needed. Individual pieces of type are just dropped into place. The method is robust and reliable; mistakes can be corrected. The type can be reused many times.

It is a paradox that advances in technology often lead to simple methods. Woodcarving is complex; setting type is easy. The computer revolution (ca. 1950—) is often compared to the Gutenberg revolution (ca. 1450—).

Review the advantages of binary:

  1. Simple; easy to build.
  2. Unambiguous signals (hence noise immunity).
  3. Flawless copies can be made.
  4. Anything that can be represented with patterns can be represented with patterns of bits.


Which is easier to do: (a) determine exactly how bright a light is, or (b) decide if it is on or off?