Biographies and binary number system history

Literacy: Reading Literacy: Writing

Imagine you have been asked to introduce one of the following people, write an introduction that explains why they are famous and some interesting information about them.


Write a biography of one of the following people: what situation were they living in, what did they achieve, and what impact has that had on society?

A biography:

  • Gives an account of a person’s life
  • Start by introducing the person and what they achieved
  • Write about the significant events that happened in their lives
  • Write about the impact their work has had on other people

Computer science started hundreds of years ago when people started thinking about how to represent and manipulate data. Some of the people who worked on early ideas have modern concepts named after them (such as Boolean true/false values, named after George Boole). Find out more about the people whose work is used every day in computers today. We've given some links to Wikipedia below to get you started, but make sure you look more widely than that.

Some people and historic ideas to research about are:

  • George Boole did extensive work on the idea of representing things with just two values, and many current programming languages have "Boolean variables", which are named after him.
  • Baudot, telegraph codes, Braille, Morse all relate to binary representations (although Morse really uses three symbols: dot, dash and gap). See what you can find out about the lives of Baudot, Braille or Morse, and what led them to invent their codes.
  • Donald Murray (who was born in NZ) came up with a letter code that was widely used for some time
  • Early telegraph systems sometimes used binary representations; you could research shutter telegraphs: