One hundred million issues of SD Times! That’s one heck of a milestone.

For many developers and IT professionals, it’s easy to forget the low-level underpinnings of today’s computer. A personal computer isn’t a computation device. It’s a communicator, office productivity tool, entertainment center and shopping aid.

What we see—whether we’re browsing with Firefox, coding with Visual Studio, listening to our favorite iTunes playlist or munching on a digital image with Photoshop—is what looks like a real world. Fonts. Colors. Pictures. Things moving. Stuff that responds when you touch it, whether with a mouse or with a finger.

Let us not forget that this is all a façade. Underneath our pretty GUI, under all that AJAX code, behind the iOS user interface, behind Safari and Firefox and Internet Explorer, there’s hardware. Chips. Analog-to-Digital and Digital-to-Analog converters. Power supplies. Voltage levels. Ones and zeros.

We try hard to forget it’s there, but our profession is turning abstract binary patterns inside a computer into something that matters in the real world. If this reminds you of “The Matrix,” well, it should.

The 100,000,000th issue of SD Times, of course, is the 256th issue. Busting out of the eight-bit byte, SD Times continues to move into the future. A future that, except for embedded development and some specialized applications that require bit-twiddling, has nearly completely abstracted the computer out of computing.

In honor of our official 100,000,000th issue’s publication date of Oct. 15, 2010, I’m going to wear one of my favorite t-shirts this Friday: “There are 10 types of people in the world: Those that understand binary, and those that don’t.”

Sadly, that t-shirt (and my prized HP-16C calculator) are about as close as I ever get to binary these days. It’ll have to do.

Alan Zeichick is editorial director of SD Times. Follow him on Twitter at Read his blog at