What is Digital Data?


Since the invention of computers, the amount of data generated and stored is enormous. Ever pondered around the question that how is data stored in computers and in which form? Computers can work only with digital information. Everything that is generated and stored in the computer must be first turned into a digital signal in one of the two states, either ‘on’ or ‘off’.

A computer processor is a collection of switches that can be either on or off, these switches are also known as transistors. The information or the data from input devices must be digitized so that the information can be processed.

What Makes Computers Use Binary?

Whatever information or the data that is generated and stored on the computer is saved by using Binary code language. Binary code language is composed of just numbers 1 and 0. This binary code is saved in switches (transistors) as either on or off like a digital signal. When it is termed that the data is digitized then it means it is turned into 1s and 0s for the storage purpose.

How Do You Communicate Using Only On and Off?

Using just on and off to send messages might seem very limiting. How can a computer process everything it does with just two signals?

Even in Victorian times, people used sequences on and off to communicate. They sent messages through the electric telegraph and these messages had to be converted into Morse code.

Morse code is a series of dots and dashes that represent all the letters of the alphabet, numbers, and punctuation. The telegraph used a switch that was either on or off. The person listening at the far end of a telegraph wire could tell if the switch was on or off. By changing the length of time it was on, the person listening could tell if it was a ‘dot’ (a short signal) or a ‘dash’ (a longer signal). So for example, ‘dot dash’ is the letter ‘a’. Morse code allowed the transmission of coded messages through cables over a great distance, just with a series of dots and dashes, or on and off signals.


Binary is just another code except that instead of dots and dashes you can use 0s and 1s to represent numbers and letters. In binary, 01100001 could be the number 97, or it could represent the letter ‘a’.

What Else Can Be Turned into Binary?

Everything that is stored in the computer is digitized and to store data in computers, the data needs to be turned in binary format. Once you click on the button each information is turned into binary and then sent to the computer.

When an image is scanned into a computer it is converted into pixels. Each pixel is a small square of the color, with a binary number telling the computer about the color of each square. A scanner or a camera is an input device that is designed to capture an image by digitizing it.