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Which general computer symbol is based on the binary system?



  The multi-state power button of a 2007 MacBook Pro
vincentq / Wikimedia

Answer: The power button

The international power button icon is a simple circle topped by a line. This icon is the fourth evolution of the standard for power switches since the 1

940s. Early computer and electronic systems had toggle switches that were simply labeled on the respective sides of the toggle switch with on and off.

This standard was replaced relatively quickly to ensure the linguistic universality of the switches. On and off were replaced by the digits 1 and 0, an allusion to the binary system indicating that the power was on (1) or off (0). When the toggle switches were replaced by pushbuttons, the icon re-emerged into a circle with a line in the middle indicating that the machine could be turned on and off with a single button.

Introduction of lower-power states (such as standby mode on modern computers) required a fourth revision. The most recognizable iteration of the icon, a circle interrupted by a vertical line, indicates that the button can turn on, turn off, or put an energy-saving mode on a machine. The photo here shows such a power button – with an on / off / standby design – on an older MacBook Pro model.


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