Knowing some basic electronics helps you become a better programmer.

You might have seen warning signs that say “Danger: High Voltage” But do you know what voltage really is? You’ve probably used batteries until they’re dead. But do you know what that means? I’ve talked about high voltages representing binary ones and low voltages representing binary zeros. What are these voltages? Is high voltage in a computer the same as high voltage at a construction site?

The way I first learned to think about voltage was using water and pipes as an example. You might think that water is voltage but that’s not quite right. Water will flow from a high place to a low place because of gravity and if you restrict this flow by making it go through pipes, then it’ll build up pressure. This is why towns build water towers to raise water high in the air. It provides a reservoir of water with a natural tendency to create pressure.

The water itself in this example relates to charge. The pressure is voltage. The flow of the water is current. And the pipes not only resemble wires but also act as a source of resistance. Let me explain each of these a little more.

Listen to the full episode for a more detailed explanation of charge, voltage, current, resistance, as well as Ohm’s Law and how they relate to each other.