Know Your Circuits: Analog vs. Digital Electronics
Career Path : Electrician Trade
Information is everywhere. Even if we cannot directly perceive our environment to be information, it is embedded all around us. Strolling through a library or surfing the net is an easy way to spot how information is stored. But how does one consider their favorite television program to be information? Or how is a long-distance phone call from your grandmother considered information?
The answer is the way we record and transmit everything around us. Our brains do a good job dealing with what we directly perceive with the five senses. For everything else that is transmitted through some electronic device, sights, sounds, numbers and words are sent to us through circuits of information. There are two major forms of circuit transmission: analog and digital.
Analog was first developed in the 1920s and came to popular use during World War II. Digital came into being in the 1960s and became widely used in the 1980s by libraries. But just because digital is newer does not mean that an electrician school or electrician apprenticeship program won’t cover the two. Both are still used today, and many electronic devices use a combination of both.
Analog is a faithful electronic recording of the original information source. For example, a voice recorded with analog takes the actual wave forms of the voice and imprints them directly onto the tape, which a reader will play. Digital takes an original signal source and translates that information into a series of numbersâbinary code of 1s and 0s. Digital receivers take those numbers and translate them back to the original information for playback.
Electrician training will guide trainees to know the difference between the two seemingly opposite systems. While it may seem that digital circuits require more work to do the same thing as analog, there are some advantages to digital, especially as today the amounts of information being stored and transmittedÂ is growing exponentially.
Analog sends a constant signal no matter if a receiving device is turned on or off. So for example, televisions, which were mostly analog, could have the screen turned off, but its receiver is still always on. Digital can be turned on and off, and thus could save electricity.
Since digital turns information into code, it has a much larger capacity to store information than analog, which requires a set amount of space for a set amount of information. Digital can also compress large amounts of code by finding patterns, thereby saving even more digital space.
Because analog requires a physical form of storage, it can be subjected to wear and tear, thus deteriorating over time. Digital is simply the information about the original signal. The quality and integrity will therefore never degrade so long as the information can be read.Â This also has the advantage of being able to be duplicated and transmitted with zero loss of quality.
Knowing the difference and the advantages of each is an essential aspect of electrician apprenticeship programs. Being in control of the means of storing and communicating information is an essential aspect of modern life.
Visit Mohawk College for more information on electrician and industrial electrician apprenticeship programs.