Commonly refers to an eight-bit word. A basic element of computer storage, can hold one ASCII character or a number between 0 and 255 (if unsigned- -127 and 127 if the byte is signed)

by hand = B = byte sex

byte /bi:t/ n.

[techspeak] 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 nybble.

--The Jargon File version 4.3.1, ed. ESR, autonoded by rescdsk.

IEC-Defined Common Multiples of Bytes

kibibyte = (210)1 bytes = 1,024 bytes
mebibyte = (210)2 bytes = 1,048,576 bytes
gibibyte = (210)3 bytes = 1,073,741,824 bytes
tebibyte = (210)4 bytes = 1,099,511,627,776 bytes
pebibyte = (210)5 bytes = 1,125,899,906,842,624 bytes
exbibyte = (210)6 bytes = 1,152,921,504,606,846,976 bytes

kilobyte = 103 bytes = 1,000 bytes
megabyte = 106 bytes = 1,000,000 bytes
gigabyte = 109 bytes = 1,000,000,000 bytes
terabyte = 1012 bytes = 1,000,000,000,000 bytes
petabyte = 1015 bytes = 1,000,000,000,000,000 bytes
exabyte = 1018 bytes = 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes
zettabyte = 1021 bytes = 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes
yottabyte = 1024 bytes = 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes

Traditionally, the term "kilobyte" meant (210)1 or 1024 bytes, megabyte was 10242 bytes, etc. To avoid confusion (!) with the standard SI units, the definitions above were published in January, 1999 by the IEC.

Log in or registerto write something here or to contact authors.