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By Larry Hughes

Computing device technology

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Once the terminology and concepts are understood, nearly all other types of communication can be grasped. Point-to-point communications are introduced in Chapter 3 using the asynchronous communication hardware available on all PCs. The chapter presents a detailed examination of how asynchronous communications are achieved, using Commkit's point-to-point telephone utility that supports communications between pairs of PCs as a detailed case study. Some of the standards and methods of physically supporting a communication are introduced in Chapter 4.

Fixed-point, or Binary Coded Decimal (BCD), numbers can be stored in different ways, including: Zoned decimal format has each digit in the BCD number occupying a single byte. The leftmost nibble (zone nibble) contains 1111, while the rightmost contains the digit (one of 0000 through 1001). The sign (one of 1100positive; 1101negative; or 1111unsigned, assumed positive) is stored in the leftmost nibble of the low-order digit. 6 illustrates how -218 would be stored. Packed decimal format removes the zone nibble from each byte and stores each digit in adjacent nibbles.

The software, known as Commkit, has been designed to permit anyone with access to at least two PCs to gain experience using the concepts associated with point-to-point communications, network analysis tools, modems, store-and-forward wide area networks, bus and ring local area networks, gateways, and a version of UNIX sockets. Commkit has been designed to be as unobstrusive as possible to allow the reader to concentrate on communication issues rather than on the operating system or the hardware.

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