Webopedia on Google+Webopedia on TwitterWebopedia on FacebookTech Bytes Blog
Main » TERM » B »

bit

Short for binary digit, the smallest unit of information on a machine. The term was first used in 1946 by John Tukey, a leading statistician and adviser to five presidents. A single bit can hold only one of two values: 0 or 1. More meaningful information is obtained by combining consecutive bits into larger units. For example, a byteis composed of 8 consecutive bits.

Computers are sometimes classified by the number of bits they can process at one time or by the number of bits they use to represent addresses. These two values are not always the same, which leads to confusion. For example, classifying a computer as a 32-bit machine might mean that its data registers are 32 bits wide or that it uses 32 bits to identify each address in memory. Whereas larger registers make a computer faster, using more bits for addresses enables a machine to support larger programs.

Graphics are also often described by the number of bits used to represent each dot. A 1-bit image is monochrome; an 8-bit image supports 256 colors or grayscales; and a 24- or 32-bit graphic supports true color.







TECH RESOURCES FROM OUR PARTNERS
DID YOU KNOW?
Small Business Marketing's Greatest Hits

The following compilation of small business marketing tips highlights some of the expert advice published over at Small Business Computing. Read More »

Taking Ownership through Digital Governance

Taking ownership of our own misjudgments or simple forgetfulness takes a healthy amount of humility and some honest self-assessment. Yet sometimes... Read More »

Have We Become a World of Addicts?

It's hard to imagine our lives without smartphones. But people who suffer separation anxiety when they don't have their phones nearby may be in... Read More »

QUICK REFERENCE
5 Best Cloud Storage Services

With cost and security in mind, we look at five cloud storage options that will suit the needs of most home and SMB owners. Read More »

Windows 10 Tips for Desktop PC

Five basic tips to help you customize Windows 10 on your desktop PC. Read More »

29 Free Android Apps for Cash-Strapped Students

From wacky alarm clocks to lecture hall tools and after class entertainment, these Android apps are a good fit for a student's life and budget. Read More »