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What is a Byte?

Updated on March 27, 2011

What is a Byte?

The Origin of the Byte

The Byte is derivative of the bit, and represents 8 bits. Each bit represents an element of binary code, being either a 1 or a 0. This is important to note because computers communicate with each other, and internally process all things in 1s or 0s (representing on or off, magnetic or not, and so forth). One can easily see how this is the best means of information storage for computers.

It is also important to note that a byte was, historically, the amount of information required to code a single letter of text. As a result, one could directly factor the size of a hard-drive, into a number of novels capable of being stored. Last I checked, the average word was 6 characters long, and a single megabyte holds a million bytes (a million text characters). Therefore, a megabyte could store 166,666 words, which is roughly two novels.

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    • Angela Brummer profile image

      Angela Brummer 5 years ago from Lincoln, Nebraska

      I feel smarter I had no idea! LOL