“Below the surface of the machine, the program moves. Without effort, it expands and contracts. In great harmony, electrons scatter and regroup. The forms on the monitor are but ripples on the water. The essence stays invisibly below.”
—Master Yuan-Ma, The Book of Programming
Inside the computer’s world, there is only data. You can read data, modify data, create new data—but anything that isn’t data simply does not exist. All this data is stored as long sequences of bits and is thus fundamentally alike.
Bits are any kind of two-valued things, usually described as zeros and ones. Inside the computer, they take forms such as a high or low electrical charge, a strong or weak signal, or a shiny or dull spot on ...