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How Computers Work, Ninth Edition by Timothy Edward Downs, Ron White

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Chapter 5. How Transistors Manipulate Data

How Transistors Manipulate Data

THE transistor is the basic building block from which all microchips are built. The transistor can only create binary information: a 1 if current passes through, or a 0 if current doesn’t pass through. From these 1s and 0s, called bits, a computer can create any number as long as it has enough transistors grouped together to hold all the 1s and 0s.

Binary notation starts off simply enough:

Decimal Number

Binary Number

0

0

1

1

2

10

3

11

4

100

5

101

6

110

7

111

8

1000

9

1001

10

1010

Personal computers, such as the original IBM PC and AT systems based on the Intel 8088 and 80286 microprocessors, are 16-bit PCs. That means they can ...

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