Updated: 03/05/2023 by Computer Hope

A base may refer to any of the following:

Series of blocks representing exponents

1. A base is the available numbers in a numbering system. For example, the most commonly known base is a base-10 numbering system or decimal numbers, which are 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9. Another common base when dealing with computers is the binary base-2, which only uses 0 and 1.

Types of bases used with computers

Below are the four bases you may encounter when working with computers.

Decimal vs. binary

Suppose you had the decimal number "234" (two hundred thirty-four). Because binary only uses 0's and 1's, that number must be converted to its binary equivalent, "11101010." Each of the 8 bits in the byte value represents a quantity, going from 1 to 128 from right to left, doubling the bit's value as we move positions. When the bit is turned "on" (1), that bit value is counted and then added to the total, as shown in the following examples.

1*128 + 64*1 + 32*1 + 0*16 + 1*8 + 0*4 + 1*2 + 0*1 = 234


128 + 64 + 32 + 0 + 8 + 0 + 2 + 0 = 234.


See our binary page for complete information on how a decimal number is turned into a binary.

Why do computers need different base numbers?

Today's computers only need and use binary (base-2) for many reasons (see our binary page). However, numbering systems like decimal, hex, and octal are often useful and easier to work with when communicating information to humans.

Is there a base-1?

Yes. The unary numeral system is a base-1 numeral system that only uses a "1" as tally marks to count. For example, counting to five is represented as 1, 11, 111, 1111, and 11111.

2. When describing a computer part, a base is another term for a foot.

3. With HTML (hypertext markup language), the <base> tag designates the base URL (uniform resource locator) for every relative URL inside a page.

4. With gaming, a base is often the starting point for a team or where all team members spawn. A team's base may also be an objective for an opposing team. For example, in CTF (capture the flag), the opposing team may have to steal an enemy's base flag and return it to their base without dying.

Base 2, Base 8, Base 10, Base 16, Base station, BCD, Game terms, Hardware terms, URL