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The DEV Team

BaseCS: The Magic Number of Computers

vaidehijoshi profile image Vaidehi Joshi ・1 min read

Today's episode of BaseCS explores a very special number in computing: 256!

In this episode, we explore encoding schemes, which afford us a more human-friendly way of representing data as compared to binary. We learn about the ASCII encoding scheme, and how many bits the basic ASCII table requires to represent a character. Then, we'll learn how the ASCII table was extended to make use of an entire byte's worth of data! Finally, we'll see how one single bit can be super powerful, and why the number 256 is tied so closely to one byte of data.

This whole series is sponsored by Heroku. A special thank you to Heroku for their ongoing support!

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Vaidehi Joshi


Writing words, writing code. Sometimes doing both at once. Señiorita engineer at Forem.

The DEV Team

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From Catch 22:

"Of the fighting 256th Squadron," Yossarian replied, "I didn't know there were any other Captain Yossarians. As far as I know, I'm the only Captain Yossarian I know, but that's only as far as I know."

"I see," the chaplain said unhappily.

"That's two to the fighting eighth power," Yossarian pointed out, "if you're thinking of writing a symbolic poem about our squadron."


It is so cool having you on DEV! I followed you on Medium but got sad when you didn't post anymore