Level shifters are able to convert a low voltage to a high voltage.
MAX232 is a level shifter which translates voltages so that your micrcontroller can talk to your PC through an RS-232 port. This translates between the 0 to 5V TTL level voltages to the +/-12V levels required by RS-232. These ICs come in DIP package making them suitable for breadboard prototyping.
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