# Desktop

## General discussion

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### Bits and Bytes !!

By ·
We know that a BIT is a binary digit, hence the acronym -bit. Now 8 bits make one byte. What do the letters b-y-t-e stand for and why is the spelling byte instead of bite.

Thank you
Merv Tulloch
mervt@arctic.ca

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### Bits and Bytes !!

by In reply to Bits and Bytes !!

Found at http://www.wilton.net/wordorb.htm

The term byte, meaning eight bits, is of less certain origin, but probably was coined by someone at IBM (perhaps a Dr. Werner Buchholz according to Safire's Quoth the Maven) around 1964. The earliest cite in the OED2 dates from an article in IBM Systems Journal from that year. Some have suggested that it is an abbreviation for BInary digiT Eight (Carver) and that the Y was substituted for the I so to prevent typographical confusion with bit (Safire). Neither of these claims is well substantiated, although it is certain that byte was influenced by and is a play on bit. Another suggestion in Safire is that it is short for BinarY TErm. Again, this lacks substantiation.

Also playful, but less well known, is the term nybble or nibble, meaning half a byte, or four bits.

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### Bits and Bytes !!

by In reply to Bits and Bytes !!

Thankyou. It does help to ask questions.
Merv

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### Bits and Bytes !!

by In reply to Bits and Bytes !!

http://www.xent.com/july99/0646.html

Also some say The word 'byte' is a contraction of 'by eight".

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### Bits and Bytes !!

by In reply to Bits and Bytes !!

Thanks

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### Bits and Bytes !!

by In reply to Bits and Bytes !!

from the Jargon file (a.k.a. "The Hacker's Dictionary"):
byte /bi:t/ n. A unit of memory or data equal to the amount used to represent one character; on modern architectures this is usually 8 bits, but may be 9 on 36-bit machines. Some older architectures used 'byte' for quantities of 6 or 7 bits, and the PDP-10 supported 'bytes' that were actually bitfields of 1 to 36 bits! These usages are now obsolete, and even 9-bit bytes have become rare in the general trend toward power-of-2 word sizes.Historical note: The term was coined by Werner Buchholz in 1956 during the early design phase for the IBM Stretch computer; originally it was described as 1 to 6 bits (typical I/O equipment of the period used 6-bit chunks of information). The move to an 8-bit byte happened in late 1956, and this size was later adopted and promulgated as a standard by the System/360. THe word was coined by mutating the word 'bite' so it would not be accidentally misspelled as <bit>. See also <nibble>.

(another good source would b

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### Bits and Bytes !!

by In reply to Bits and Bytes !!

Thanks
Merv

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