The Ever Growing ANALOG vs DIGITAL Debate
02/21/2001 12:05:00 PM MST Albuquerque, Nm
By Dustin D. Brand; Owner AMO
why Digital is used and Analog isn't
I hereby dedicate this article to my friend Mike, a studing Computer Animator.
It really takes some intense physics to explain why Digital has surpassed Analog in nearly all industries in the past 30 years. You need to have a solid understanding of Physics I think to understand why, but simply put Computers are the reason digital has replaced analog.
While CD or Compact Discs have been in the marketplace for nearly 15 years replacing Tapes, where Tapes replaced records, Analog Computers were also replaced by Digital Computers.
This huge revolutionary jump from Analog to Digital has some people thinking and debating why?
After all, Analog signals are continuous waves that can represent an unlimited number of values. AT&T spent a lot of money building the POTS (Plain old telephone system), and it's analog. The drawback is, now 30 years later, Data communication over analog lines has limited transmission speed because of the narrow bandwidth of voice lines.
When transmitting data over phone lines, a modem is required to convert the digital data signals to analog signals. When analog signals are transmitted over long distances, they need to be amplified, which can distort the value of the data transmitted.
AT&T now in the year 2001, yes Mike (smile) it's the year 2001, is building on fiber, purchased MediaOne a cable company, and is converting their Long Distance network to Digital. Why you ask? They spent all that money on Analog right? Well Digital is represented as follows...
When analog data is converted to digital data it can be transmitted over digital signals faster and without distortion. Discreet samples of binary data make up the content of the payload. Digital data is precise, but can't transmit the range of information available with analog. Well, that isn't exactly true. Current Physics and Computer Science shows and proves to us that a digital representation of analog is possible, and in fact is in use widely today. Consider the capabilities of an adding machine: add, subtract, balance your checkbook. It's a useful, helpful tool. Now imagine what you can do with a desktop computer: create documents, explore the Internet, handle accounting for an entire corporation. Like a computer versus an adding machine, the digital solution gives you complex, sophisticated processing capabilities no analog design can match.
This is the main reason Physics and Computer Science has pushed analog to the side, where in the lab it has been proven that digital can increasingly match the variables possible in analog. Analog potentiometers [po·ten·ti·om·e·ter (p-tnsh-m-tr)] are now Digital potentiometers. Analog Computer Monitors are becoming Digital Displays like LCD's and FPDS. Why? In short because they're making the analog counterpart in digital much, much better than the analog version. Consider a record vs a tape vs a CD. Consider the first computers that filled entire rooms to the computer with 1 zillionth time the power fitting in a digital wrist watch (Dick Tracy, hello!). Much like a DVD has a higher quality than an analog TV image, digital is surpassing analog in many other ways. Wires in many places are being replaced by light pulses travelling over fiber optics, RCA cables gave way to S-VIDEO, and S-VIDEO has given way to Component Video which is already giving way to several propreitary Digital Video cable
mediums. Copier machines used to be analog, now they're digital. Input devices or Peripherals for computers used to be analog, and are growingly becoming digital like the optical mouse which actually takes digital pictures of the mouse ball movement and digitally compares that to reproduce in software the mouse moving. Laptop Touchpads can't work without it's digital link which is sensitive to pressure and varrying degrees of pressure. Analog telephone lines have been replaced in many cases with Digital Subscriber lines which operate at a higher frequency allowing for greater bandwidth transfer over the POTS copper phone line. Cable modems work using Fiber and are digital, much like the Digital TV many cable TV operators use.
As with the optical mouse being more accurate than an analog mouse, digital controllers of any kind are more presise than analog controllers.
Enough said? I hope so.