Whether they are aware of it or not, the average person in the developed world comes into contact with dozens or hundreds of electronic calculating, computing, and controlling machines every day. However, very few folks actually have any clue as to how these machines perform their magic.

This book explains how computers work in general and how they do math (represent and manipulate numbers) in particular. The accompanying CD-ROM contains a virtual computer-calculator called the DIY (“Do It Yourself”) Calculator. The book’s step-by-step interactive laboratories guide the reader in the creation of a calculator program (written in the DIY Calculator’s simple assembly language) to run on the DIY Calculator.

This chapter introduces the concepts of computers and calculators and presents the virtual DIY Calculator. A free version of the DIY Calculator for use with this chapter is available from the DIY Calculator web site.

Reproduced from the book The Definitive Guide to How Computers Do Math: Featuring the Virtual DIY Calculator. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Reproduced by permission of John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Written permission from John Wiley & Sons, Inc. is required for all other uses.