The Digital Age

From a single binary digit in a transistor to a global data sphere

Not all of us are digital natives.  Many of us grew up without the sophisticated tech gadgets we hold in our palms today.  As consumers, we are replacing and adding to them on a yearly basis.  Products are getting smaller and a lot more powerful.  Every new age is marked by some type of development that ultimately becomes a new driving force of human society.  We live in the Age of Information.  We’ve also called it the Computer Age and the Digital Age.

Three key factors have been the driving force of social evolution within the Age of Information

Consider the base-10 numeral system or decimal system.  This is how many learn to understand numbers & count at school.  An entirely different system is the base-2 numeral or binary system.  The smallest binary digit, abbreviated as ‘bit’, is a single binary value, either zero or one.  Any number can be represented with only 1s and 0s, side by side in a string as long as you could wish it to be.

Switching is essential to make rapid decisions about routing information

The science of electronics produced the transistor.  Turning a switch on and off lends itself perfectly to the binary numeral system.  The transistor is a simple memory device.  When “off”, the bit stored is “0”.  When “on”, the bit stored is “1”.  What remains is to link transistors together to make very simple computational decisions.  Once only a handful of transistors, today billions of tiny transistors are integrated on a digital circuit, a microchip.

Computing power is explosive and data creates value when it improves the lives of end users.  An MRI brain scan, for example, once captured a mere thousand images.  Today, doctors are looking at 20,000 images for a single scan.  These are phenomenal breakthroughs – challenging in terms of computer data storage though undoubtedly a driving force of social evolution.

Our Memo provides further insight.

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