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The computer term "bit" comes from the phrase "Binary DigIT," which is different than that thing you put around a horse's mouth. A bit is a single digit number in base-2 (a zero or a one) and is the smallest unit of computer data. A full page of text is composed of about 16,000 bits.

It is important not to confuse bits with bytes. Both are used to measure amounts of data, but it takes eight bits to make one byte. The most common area where bits are used intstead of bytes is in measuring bandwidth (in bits per second). Why? Probably because it makes your Internet connection sound faster than it really is.

Abbreviation: b

Published: 2002

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