Double and multiple stars are the rule in the stellar population, and single stars the minority, as the abundance of binary systems in the space surrounding the sun shows beyond doubt. Numerous stellar features, and methods of their exploration, ensue specifically from the one but widespread property, the binary nature. Stellar masses are basic quantities for the theory of stellar structure and evolution, and they are ob tained from binary-star orbits where they depend on the cube of observed parameters; this fact illustrates the significance of orbits as well as the accuracy requirements. Useful in dating stellar history is the knowledge that components of a system, different though they may appear, are of the same origin and age. Between star formation and the genesis of binaries a direct connection can be traced. The later stages of stellar life branch into a great variety as mutual influence between the components of a close binary pair develops. Transfer and exchange of mass and the presence of angular momentum in the orbit give rise to special tracks of evolution, not found for single stars, and to peculiar spectral groups. This is not a new story but it has a new ending: The patterns of evolution involving mass transfer appear to lead ultimately to single objects.