What Does Analog Mean?

Analog, in the context of technology, refers to signals derived from physical phenomena that also may be interpreted as signals representing physical measurements. Light or visual input, for example, is an analog signal, so to capture video, its analog signal must be scanned and then translated into fluctuating electronic pulses.


Record players, VCRs and cassette players are examples of analog devices because they record information in a linear manner, and they read physical data from a media device by scanning it. An analog signal is characterized by regular sinusoidal curves or sharp, irregular spikes, while digital signals are normally constant in amplitude and characterized by flat signal waves, like plateaus.

Techopedia Explains Analog

Analog was the only mainstream device choice until quite recently, when digital device technology became cheaper and easier to manufacture. Although inexpensive and easy to use, analog technology’s downside is its limited data holding capability.

Computers can only read digital data, but it is more efficient to transmit analog signals. Thus, analog-to-digital conversion and vice versa have become very common. In fact, most people are not aware of the process as it occurs. For example, your DSL modem receives and sends analog signals to and from the outside, then converts those signals to digital signals, which are sent to your router or computer.


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Margaret Rouse

Margaret Rouse 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 explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…