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## Transcript

The binary base race

Or how I started computing before I ever started computing.

his goes back to roughly 1970. Thatâs my 7^{th} grade class and here I am and what we were doing in this class one day was studying numeric bases. Now, bases are the way that we interpret and operate on numbers.

Weâre all familiar with Base 10.Â In Base 10, there are ten possible digits; zero through nine and a number like 12,345 is represented as you see here: one, two, three, four, five. Each of those digits represents something important. The five, for example represents the number of âonesâ in the number. The four represents the number of âtensâ. The three represents the number of âone hundredsâ; the two represents the number of âone thousandsâ and the one represents the number of âten thousandsâ.

Now, that sequence: one, ten, one hundred, one thousand, ten thousand, those are all powers of ten. Hence, Base 10.

Now, we already knew about Base 10 and we were looking at other bases of course, but what we decided to do is to study Base 2. What we call âbinaryâ.

Now in Base 2, there are exactly two possible digits: zero and one. So a number might look something like 10101. In this case, the right most digit represents the number of âonesâ just like it did in Base 10. The next digit over, however, represents the number of âtwosâ. The next digit, the number of âfoursâ; the next digit the number of âeightsâ and the next the number of âsixteensâ and so on.

Here the commonality that this one, two, four, eight, sixteen sequence has is that these are all powers of two. Hence, binary. Now, in case you are curious, that 10101 number represents one times sixteen plus zero times eight plus one times four plus zero times two plus one times one. In other words, thatâs the equivalent of 21 decimal.

We had a base race. Now a base race was a really more of a spelling bee like thing for counting except we did it in Base 2. That made it interesting. The setup was fairly simple. Weâd all get up and stand in front of the room in a line and from left to right, weâd simply start counting in Base 2. So what that means is the first person would say, âzeroâ. The next, âoneâ; the next, âone, zeroâ. The next, âone, oneâ; the next, âone, zero, zeroâ and so on counting one, by one, through the binary numbers.

As soon as somebody got one wrong, well, theyâd have to sit down and the race would continue. As you can tell, there were probably around thirty people in the class so we ended up going through quite a few numbers. I actually donât remember exactly where we stopped; how far we got but Iâm sure we got into a least the thirties.

Now, as it turns out, I came in second or if you want to be technical about it I suppose it would be 10 to be represented in binary.

Whatâs interesting about this and the reason that I bring this up today is that 7^{th} grade, 1970, thatâs a full six years before I would even touch the computer for the first time in college.

That kind of struck me. I didnât even think about for the longest time. I always considered my computing career to have started in 1976 with that introduction to Fortran programming class, but apparently, in reality, the signs were already 6 years earlier.

Now, you probably have experience that you donât even realize applies.Â So my question to you is this: âWhat did you learn before you realized you learned it?â Much like my binary numbers, I had no idea that they would play such an important role in my life later on, and yet, here we are.

What things in real life helped you understand your technology better?Â Technology is full of metaphors, files and folders, clipboards, menus, dashboards, theyâre all just metaphors for things we see in real life. Iâm curious as to your experience and how itâs impacted your life?

As always, this video, if youâre watching anywhere but on askleo.com, hereâs the link, askleo.com/22613. Leave your comments there. Let me know. This is a lighter, funner topic than some of the topics weâve been addressing in the past and Iâm curious as to what your experience has been.

As always, have fun, stay safe and donât forget to back up.

Oh, and before we go, if youâve ever run across this particular piece of humor in social media and so forth, now youâre in a position to understand it. There are ten kinds of people in the world: Those who understand binary and those who donât. Itâs actually a mispronunciation. The correct way to state this is that there are 10 kinds of people in the world because 10 is, of course, binary for two.

Take care, everyone.

I believe there are 3 kinds of people in the world. Those who can count, and those who canât. :)

Actually, there are 10. Those who understand binary and those who donât. :P

Funny Mark!

Did ya watch the video? To the end????? :-)

Exactly what Iâm wondering. :)

Thatâs an extremely old joke, Mr. Jacobs. I think I first heard it when I was 1001.

Great comeback Ray :)

Leo, Iâm a little older than you and actually started with computers in the 60âs. I never learned âbinaryâ in school (actually youâre the first of people I know to ever mention it was taught!) But as we know itâs the foundation of computing and once one understands that basis it sort of comes together! Back in the day I would âfixâ my complied programming errors through the console of a 1401 computer. Get 3-4 errors fixed through flipping switches (1 and 0) until it was feasible to re-compile. Thanks for the memory!

Well, being older, there were no computers in school âŠ then the last year of college, there was a large frame where we could learn to punch cards to program some simple arithmetic sum with umpteen cards â what a mess if those cards were dropped ;-)

It was interesting yet time-consuming; later on â in the working world, the price to have something typed was going up yet my typing skills were still not perfect; so I decided to purchase a computer [Apple 2E with printer] âŠ sure improved my typing and when the BBs started, I met some of these computer nerds who were willing to answer my questions â when MsFt & Apple started hiring, they moved to the West coast but the Internet had begun.

As for binary âŠ that was supposedly a part of the new math â I learned the old stand-by; although Iâm glad I took Statistics in college which taught that ;-)

Hi Leo,

Thanks for the memories

I was surprised at the similarity between Huffman Coding technique and the one used by Jean Dominique Bauby to write his book âThe Diving Bell and the Butterflyâ. Necessity is indeed the mother of invention.

Well, letâs see. My first FORTRAN was in 1968 on an IBM 8100 with 16k(yes k!) of memory and a 5 MG disk.

COBOL in 1970 on an RCA Spectra 70/45.

RPG in 1972 on a 360/20

Never learned assembler but patched it a lot.

A bit of Pascal creeped in during 1974 or 1975.

I thought I was a pig in . . . . . when I got a 9600 bps modem!

Letâs not even get into PCâs !

My earliest exposure to âcomputerâ stuff was in second grade, in a music appreciation segment of class, when I learned the song âInchwormâ. I loved the feeling of comfortable infinity in the lyrics, and even more so the haunting ostinato melody of the refrain. It was, no pun intended, a brainworm that stayed with me for weeks. As most folks know, the refrain in the background of the main lyrics is simply âtwo and two are four, four and four are eight, eight and eight are sixteen, and sixteen and sixteen are thirty twoâ. Because I was so taken with the song, and perhaps because Iâm bit wrong in the head, I decided to continue the sequence. I forget how far I got, but it went over the million mark. The sequence, and the rapidity and simplicity with which the numbers got so big, combined with the eerie melody I now forever associate with exponential growth kept me revisiting those numbers over and over. I had my powers of two memorized by age 8. I think I was 15 before I actually had any use for them, writing my first programs on a TRS-80, 19 before I was forced to take a real computer programming class in college, and 20 or 21 before I was working a college job completely immersed in hardware-level memory mapped graphics programming that required constant use of binary notation.

Wow, how young you are âŠ makes me feel so old.

I was reading the entire Enclyclopedia Britannica while you were playing âround with your exponents ;-)

Just chopped off eight of my digits and I still donât get it.

And I spelled my name wrong because I only have two thumbs left.

You only have two thumbs anyway, even if you have 10 digits.

Good Logic and that is what programming is about. My main occupation was in engineering and I studied this stuff, Binary, Hexadecimal etc just as an introduction because I didnât have to program on this level. I ended up programming using APT for numerical control machines. But it helped.

Still got my fingers.

Another oldie but goodie: Why do programmers always mix up Halloween and Christmas? (Because Oct 31 = Dec 25.)

OK, so it doesnât involve binary. My bad, lol.

Source: https://www.idtech.com/blog/part-i-top-10-programmer-jokes-explained-for-the-rest-of-us/

Not binary but the same premise. Iâve never heard that one! Thanks for sharing. :)

Actually it is binary in the sense that octal was a human shorthand for binary on some computers.

I couldnât tell you what grade I was in but we did study binary numbers in arithmetic class and I remember catching on right away. (Was in the â60s.) In 7th grade I built a âcomputerâ for the science fair. It consisted of a battery on one side, 4 switches in a row, and a lightbulb on the other side. It was supposed to demonstrate binary in a practical way by flipping the switches and turning on the light. I donât think anyone understood it, and in truth I couldnât explain it well. I could explain the difference between series and parallel circuits, so I did that instead.

I didnât know it then (getting back to your question, Leo) but it taught me that I was more interested in what a computer could do than how it did it. I acquired a hand-me-down IBM in the early â90s I think, running on two 5 1/4âł floppies (one for the OS, one for the program) and marveled at the power in my hands. I never did learn to code, but to this day I spend 4-6 hours a day on my computer, reading, researching, emailing and playing.

Did you realize that computer terminology is derived from toilet parts and accessories? I realized this when I was given a T-shirt with an illustration that labeled the various parts of the toilet. To round out your technological understanding, here they are: The part of the toilet that the âinputâ drops into is really the central processing unit. The toilet seat is the user interface. The lid is the floppy disk. The tank is for storage. The lever that releases the water from the tank is the function key, and the toilet paper is the application software. Bet you didnât know that!

Well, I hope that rounds out your education â you too, Leo! Donât ask me where to get a T-shirt like it. It was given given to me by my son-in-lawâs father who lives in Thailand, the shirt was made by a Thai company called Anuruk, and I have no idea where the enlightening illustration was printed. In any case, they sure must be smart in Thailand.

Someone I used to work with gave me a copy of a drawing of the whole toilet/computer terminology, but I donât know where it originally came from. Very apt comparisons!

Google understanding computer t-shirt

Also, thanks for the memories! I recall being introduced to other base systems in 1962 or â63 in high school advanced math using the SMSG typewritten paperback textbooks that went into many math areas that I found to be great fun â topology, a little spherical trig and other fun topics. Today most anyone using computers see Hex (base 16) regularly especially on the web. Addresses or file names frequently contain %20 which is hex for a âspaceâ (ascii 32 in base 10) which allows the use of a space when an actual typed space would be rejected. Error codes are still often shown in hex using the format beginning with â0xâ â 0x6F or 111, a Buffer Overflow error. It also brought back humorist Tom Lehrerâs song from the 1980âs about the âNew Mathâ discussing subtraction in base 10, base 8 and base 16.

http://www.sciencedump.com/content/full-new-math-song-tom-lehrer-animated

If link doesnât work search Tom Lehrer New Math. As always, thanks for all you do.

I programmed an IBM 1620 in 1960 that used base 8,

I was a teletype repairman in 1968 and learned binary with the Baudot code, the forerunner of ASCII which only had 5 bits hence teletype machines could only deal with 32 codes which is why they didnât have lower case letters. In fact, to get numbers and punctuation marks the machine had to use a mechanical shift called letters (1-1-1-1-1) versus figs (1-1-0-1-1) to achieve it. During an advanced course for new 8 bit teletypes in Chicago, I had to learn âbinaryâ code because thatâs how the character counter worked. A circuit board lit up the character position for an 80 character line by counting in binary. I never knew how much that and ASCII would affect my life later. I didnât see my first PC until about 1983 when I purchased a Sinclair ZX81, fifteen years later.

Thanks for the memories.

Bob

My first exposure to binary is a little different. Back in the early 60s I was in the âcontrolsâ group of a paper machine mfgrâg co. on the dry end. All of the controls, relays, solenoid valves, motors, etc. were designed with very long schematic ladder diagrams. One day a member of our group received a newsletter from one of our suppliers. It had a several page item introducing binary nos. Iâll never forget, I said something like, âWhat a bunch of crap. This will never go anywhere!â It was several years later when I got exposed to them again learning programmable controllers.

1963, the ânew Mathâ in 6th grade. Saved my number-challenged butt*. I can do math, I canât do arithmetic. :-)

It was the USâs response to the Soviet Sputnik.

-bb

*and spelling checkers in 1980. I canât spell either.

The question was âWhat did you learn before you realized you learned it?â

In high school was were allowed a few elective courses, none of them all that interesting. But on a lark I chose typing figuring that it might come in handy some day. It was a mixed class of business bound kids, mostly girls heading for secretarial work and a few misfits like me who were heading for college. There were about a half dozen IBM Selectrics which were rotated through the class except for folks like me who werenât really going to get anything out of the class so why waste a precious resource on them. I didnât even have a machine at home on which to practice. I attended all the classes and achieved a speed of 20 words/minute by the end. Fair but I definitely wouldnât be getting any secretarial jobs in the future.

Time passed and even in my college work typing didnât loom large. I muddled through any papers required (engineers donât write many papers) and didnât make much effort to improve my typing skills. There was no such thing as a personal computer at the time. Fortran programming was done on a keypunch machine and you got one run a day.

Then the personal computer arrived and I got an early one; a Heath/Zenith. It seemed there was a lot of typing involved with these new computers. As time passed I noticed I was getting better and better and I didnât need white out. Without the fear of making a mistake which would bring my overall speed crashing down I could really go fast. Through my working career I flew on the key board always noticing my associates, who lacked my wisdom and didnât take any typing classes, hunting and pecking at their keyboards. Looking back I rank that typing class as one of the most important Iâve ever taken.

Now that Iâm a (lot) older a little arthritis has set in and I have a crooked left little finger so the âaâ is getting really hard to hit and my speed has fallen off. And Iâve placed a curse on all tablets and phones because you canât touch type on them.

I signed up for typing in high school first year. It was cancelled for lack of interest. (I went to an all-boys school.) So Iâve spend the last years learning by doing â many bad behaviors Iâm sure. :-)

I agree. 1 year of typing is one of the best things I ever took for future use of computers. Beats typing with a single finger. Over the years, my speed increased more and more. I, too, am a child of the 60s in high school. We learned all the base systems, not just binary, but binary is the most useful for computer applications because electricity is either on or off. I remember learning simple Fortran 4 lunch hours in high school, in the programming club. I am proud to be a Baby Boomer, one of the most innovative, creative generations of our time.

Hereâs a good story,Leo. In the last two weeks Iâve downloaded Windows 10. BTW theyâre both doing well now. I bought a new PC for my wife and it came with Win 10 already installed. What a challenge! My download version went together without a hiccup. The new PC was a whole different matter. I spent the better part of 3 days looking up answers to various questions that came about. I finally got everything on the PC working and my wife calls me her IT hero.

I was hired by IBM in 1965 in Cedar Rapids Iowa for Chicago.

System 360, main frames, were coming and they wanted to take their CEâs, customer engineers, and move them up to the mainframes and I was the backfill for the pig iron, key punches verifiers re-producers and sorter hardware.

So when mainframes became popular they were producing dumps, when the computer crashed, like Windows can do, nobody knew how to read so I moved up to a PSR, program support rep. I was so good, ;-), I use the black felt marker so that I always knew where I had been in the dump, I couldnât backup because it was covered by a marker.

The computers ran assembler and in computer language it was âBASE 16â, not 10 or 2

You counted 0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,A,B,C,D,E,F and then added one more and it looked like 10,

so if you saw 10, that was equal to 16.

That was an interesting era.

Can I segue into âwhat did you teach without knowing that you taught itâ?

Back in the early 80âs I was teaching in a boarding school, and made a UK 101 computer. My electronics club had great fun with it, we even made a program for a game, and I worked out some assembler code to run a cheap printer off it.

About a week later I printed a page and found it had a header â***** ****** is greatâ â Iâd had my assembler code hacked by a 12 year old (name suppressed) whoâs been doing electronics for about 6 months. (Heâs now working in electronics so I like to think I helped, a bit, but he did all the hard work himself.)

Sometimes you win without realising âŠ.

My first programming experience was with the TI-59 calculator. Except that I didnât realize that it was programming. In fact, when I learned that you could âmemorize sequences of key pressesâ I thought that was a very neath trick for a calculator :-) I was in 8th grade back then when I got my first TI-59.

Oh, and BTW, Iâm fond of ânew mathâ. I was fully in it, with finite topologies, banach spaces and Hausdorff separability in 10th grade. It looked quite natural at the moment. I had an extremely brillant math teacher, M. Vandenbroecke, who was member of the committee setting up the new programs in math. To me, it is a great loss that ânew mathâ was so badly received overall.

Actually, all number systems are base 10 :-) . (And I donât mean base ten)

Can binary system of a webpage show me who visited a certain page, for example porn page, if i see the binary system of a porn page could i see its users and what videos were clicked on that page? So could i be able to see from my own pc what videos or pages my friend visited/watched with binary system of that page?

No