digital-to-analog or D/A conversion, the process of changing discrete digital data into a continuously varying signal in relation to a standard or reference. There are two types of converters: electromechanical—also called shaft- or position-to-digital—and electronic. An example of electromechanical conversion is a positioning mechanism, such as a strip-chart recorder. The most common use of an electronic converter is to present the output of a digital computer as a graphic display (see computer graphics) or as audio output, as in computer-generated music. A modem, or data set, is a device that converts the digital signals produced by computers and terminals into analog signals that telephone circuits are designed to carry and then back to digital signals at the other end of the communication link. See also analog-to-digital conversion.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.