What you could learn from Code by Charles Petzold (2000, 364 pages)

In the book ‘Code – The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software’, Charles explains the basic concepts of how computers work.

Initially, Charles explains how historically significant codes, such as Morse Code and Braille, were developed and used to transmit information.  For example, how the telegraph system was set up to transmit Morse Code across great distances (below).


In the main part of the book, Charles shows how simple electronic circuits can be used to represent logical operations (see below).


Very simply, these gates can only process information in 1 s or 0s.  When combined in the right way, these gates can also store information.  Below are two NOR gates.  When one switch is pressed, the bulb lights up.  When the switch is released the bulb remains lit, effectively storing information ( a ‘1’ which is a single ‘byte’).

FullSizeRender (1)FullSizeRender

The rest of the book then shows how these simple circuits can be used to perform simple addition through to complex multiplication and division.

While this book is a little dated it is still great.  Read this book, if you want a simple understanding of computer science.