Claude Shannon Turns 1100100!

May 3, 2016 By Anita R
Anita R's picture

Imagine turning 1100100 years old! That is how old Claude Shannon, the inventor of the bit (binary number system), would have been last week had he been alive

But wait, do human beings get so old? Well yes! Translate 110100 (a binary number) to the decimal number and we get the number 100! From the theory of the bit (bytes) to the first electromagnetic mouse, Shannon gave us the foundation that has become the basis of all things digital in our lives today.  

Zeros And Ones...

Did you know that binary numbers are all around us? From a very young age, we learn our numbers using a decimal system that consists of numbers from zero through nine.

In the world of computing, however, data is stored as 0s and 1s (known as binary digits, or bits). The hard disk on your computer has millions of small magnetic particles that are magnetized as 0 or 1, and are read in sequence. So, whenever you want to listen to music or look at a picture the magnetic particles are located and read. A byte is 8 bits, and can be used to store an alphabet letter such as "Y". To store the word "Youngzine", you need 9 bytes, or 72 bits.

So how do binary numbers work? In a binary number, each "place" represents a power of 2.

  • 1 = 20 = 1 
  • 10 = 21 = 2
  • 100 = 22 = 4

To convert from Binary to Decimal, you just add up the places. For example

  • 11110 = 24+23+22+21+0 = 30
  • 10001 = 24+0+0+0+20 = 17

The World Of Claude Shannon

Claude Shannon was born on April 30, 1916 in Petoskey, Michigan. He was an electrical engineer, mathematician, cryptographer, and a juggler. But he is widely known as the Father of Information Theory.

Shannon came up with the Mathematical theory of communication called the bit (binary digit). It refers to the numbers 1 and 0 which could represent yes-no, on-off and true-false answers. It was while he was doing his masters that Shannon wrote a thesis paper that later became the foundation of electronic digital computing. He became a cryptographer for the US Government during the Second World War and helped develop the world's first unbreakable cipher. He loved to tinker with electronic switches and invented an electromechanical mouse which he called 'Theseus'.

Shannon had a lighter side to him too. He was a prankster and was particularly known for his juggling skills. He was often seen riding a unicycle while working at Bell Labs. Shannon loved to have fun with toys and besides creating a maze-solving mouse, he invented a rocket-powered Frisbee and even a flame-throwing trumpet. One of the coolest toys that Shannon created was the ultimate machine that does nothing other than turn itself off!

Shannon was a very private person. He worked for Bell Labs for a few years before going to MIT to teach. He died in 2001 at the age of 84. Shannon was suffering from dementia at the time of his death.


204051's picture
204051 October 20, 2016 - 8:44am

yay so cool!

MossLady's picture
MossLady August 15, 2016 - 7:55am


Aaditi's picture
Aaditi May 22, 2016 - 4:33pm
Cool! We learned about binary numbers, but we never learned about who invented them. That was a very interesting and informative article!
Ash 1's picture
Ash 1 May 22, 2016 - 11:29am

Really COOL!

whatevs9's picture
whatevs9 May 13, 2016 - 12:26pm

binary 1100100 is 100 in decimal not 110100

Anita R's picture
Anita R May 14, 2016 - 5:28pm

Whatevs9, Thank you for pointing out the error. We have fixed it.

gracem3's picture
gracem3 May 12, 2016 - 4:55am


Aditya08's picture
Aditya08 May 9, 2016 - 6:32pm

It's a bit complex but cool!