How to Understand Binary

by Tutorial Doctor

Binary in a Snap Crackle Pop!


Step 1

Binary is a counting system that uses only 1s and 0s to count. It is used to represent data/information, and it is the language that computers talk in.

Step 2

Take the number three-thousand two-hundred and forty-one. This number uses what we call a "Decimal System." It is also known as a "Base 10" counting system. Why?

Step 3

Because each larger column is 10 times larger than the previous column (counting from the right). You have the "Ones Place" and then the "Tens Place." The 10s place is ten times the ones place.

Step 4

So if a 3 is in the thousands place, that means you have three thousands. If a 2 is in the hundreds place, that means you have two hundreds. etc.

Step 5

Now take the number 0110 in binary. (Each character is called a bit. The number 0110 has 4 bits. And 8 bits equals one byte.) Let's see how binary works...

Step 6

Binary is a "BASE 2" counting system. That means each larger column is twice the size of the previous column. Binary only uses 1s and 0s, so at any given time, only a 1 or a 0 can be in any column.

Step 7

If a 1 is in the twos place, that means you have one two. If a one is in the fours place, that means you have one four. If you have one two and 1 four, you have 6 total.

Step 8

Can you figure out this number in binary?

Step 9

It is 27 in the decimal system.

Step 10

Adding binary numbers is pretty simple!

Step 11

But what if they add to give you more than 1? Well, add the 1s together and remember that the number you will get will tell you how many units are in that column. There are two in the twos column

Step 12

And two 2s are four! Two fours are 8!

Step 13

You can also convert each column into binary straightaway. Two twos are 4, and 4 in binary is 0100, or 100. In binary, you can skip all columns that have nothing in them.

Step 14

Just remember to read from right to left!

Step 15

Tip: You can think of binary as a series of ONs and OFFs. Whichever column has a 1 in it, that column is on, and columns with 0s are off.

Step 16

Can you guess?

Step 17


Step 18

Ever heard of Boolean Logic? Then check out my guide on how to understand computer programming.

Step 19

Trivia: So what does it mean that a file is 1 kilobyte?

Step 20

For more information on Computer Science, check out