Kilobyte

In decimal systems, kilo stands for 1,000, but in binary systems, a kilo is 1,024 (2 to the 10th power). Technically, therefore, a kilobyte is 1,024 bytes, but it is often used loosely as a synonym for 1,000 bytes. For example, a computer that has 256K main memory can store approximately 256,000 bytes (or characters) in memoryat one time.

A megabyte is 2 to the 20th power (approximately 1 million) and a gigabyteis 2 to the 30th power (approximately 1 billion).

In computer literature, kilobyte is usually abbreviated as K or KB. To distinguish between a decimal K (1,000) and a binary K (1,024), the IEEE has suggested following the convention of using a small k for a decimal kilo and a capital Kfor a binary kilo, but this convention is by no means strictly followed.

Vangie Beal
Vangie Beal is a freelance business and technology writer covering Internet technologies and online business since the late '90s.

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