Encoder/Decoder

What Does Encoder/Decoder Mean?

An encoder/decoder is a hardware tool that interprets information and converts it into a code, while also possessing the ability to convert that code back to its original source. In computing, an encoder takes either a sequence of characters or an analog signal and formats it for efficient transmission and/or storage.

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Techopedia Explains Encoder/Decoder

Primitive technology that ultimately led to computer programming involved gears and physical motion. When the United States government developed the Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer (ENIAC) in the mid-twentieth century, electrical signals replaced physical motion as the method of computation.

Several other projects built upon the same computing principles, from which programming languages began to emerge. Their diversity gradually necessitated tools for translation. A hardware device that performs that function is known as an “endec,” which is a portmanteau of “encoder/decoder.” By contrast, a software device that performs that function is known as a “codec,” which is a portmanteau of “coder/decoder.”

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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.