A Bit Can Hold The Value

Bob Roberts
• Friday, 20 November, 2020
• 7 min read

If you have used a computer for more than five minutes, then you have heard the words bits and bytes. Both RAM and hard disk capacities are measured in bytes.

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For example, you might hear an advertisement that says “This computer has a 32- bit Pentium processor with 64 megabytes of RAM and 2.1 gigabytes of hard disk space.” Decimal Numbers the easiest way to understand bits is to compare them to something you know: digits.

A digit is a single place that can hold numerical values between 0 and 9. Digits are normally combined in groups to create larger numbers.

The neat thing about number systems is that there is nothing that forces you to have 10 different values in a digit. In fact, there are lots of good reasons to use different bases in different situations.

The reason computers use the base-2 system is that it makes it a lot easier to implement them with current electronic technology. You could wire up and build computers that operate in base-10, but they would be fiendishly expensive right now.

You can see that in binary numbers, each bit holds the value of increasing powers of 2. That makes counting in binary pretty easy.

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When you look at this sequence, 0 and 1 are the same for decimal and binary number systems. At the number 2 you see carrying first take place in the binary system.

In the transition from 15 to 16 this effect roles over through 4 bits, turning 1111 into 10000. The 8- bit byte is something that people settled on through trial and error over the past 50 years.

With 8 bits in a byte, you can represent 256 values ranging from 0 to 255, as shown here: In the How Stuff Works article on CDs you saw that a CD uses 2 bytes, or 16 bits, per sample.

Bytes are frequently used to hold individual characters in a text document. The table at the right shows the 127 standard ASCII codes.

Computers store text documents, both on disk and in memory, using these codes. For example, if you use Notepad in Windows 95/98 to create a text file containing the words, “Four score and seven years ago”, Notepad would use one byte of memory per character (including one byte for each space character between the words (ASCII value 32)).

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Try this experiment: open up a new file in Notepad and insert the sentence, “Four score and seven years ago” in it. If you add another word to the end of the sentence and re-save it, the file size will jump to the appropriate number of bytes.

If you were to look at the file as a computer looks at it, you would find that each byte contains not a letter but a number. The number is the ASCII code corresponding to the character.

To get a feel for binary math, let's start with decimal addition and see how it works. Binary numbers and arithmetic let you represent any amount you want using just two digits: 0 and 1.

When you see a number like “0101” you can figure out what it means by adding the powers of 2: Typical sizes for personal computer RAM (random access memory) are 4 to 16 megabytes, while hard disks now start around 150 megabytes.

Since each byte can represent one character of the alphabet, that means a hard disk might hold something like 150 million characters, or 25 million words of “raw” text. Documents formatted in a word processor take up a lot more space, though, and the operating system and software usually fill at least 100 megabytes.

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For computers, binary numbers are great stuff because: They are simple to work with -- no big addition tables and multiplication tables to learn, just do the same things over and over, very fast. They just use two values of voltage, magnetism, or other signal, which makes the hardware easier to design and more noise resistant.

For practice, figure out what these numbers stand for, then check your answer in the list above: 1011, 0110, 0010. Decimal To Binary Conversion To convert a decimal number to binary, first subtract the largest possible power of two, and keep subtracting the next largest possible power form the remainder, marking 1s in each column where this is possible and 0s where it is not.

In this section, we'll learn how bits and bytes encode information. The bit stores just a 0 or 1: it's the smallest building block of storage.

ASCII is an encoding representing each typed character by a number Each number is stored in one byte (so the number is in 0.255) A is 65 B is 66 an is 96 space is 32 “Unicode” is an encoding for mandarin, Greek, Arabic, etc. Each letter is stored in a byte, as below 100 typed letters takes up 100 bytes When you send, say, a text message, the numbers are sent Text is quite compact, using few bytes, compared to image etc.

One byte works well for individual characters, but computers are also good at manipulating numbers. Integers are typically stored with either 4 or 8 bytes 4 bytes can store numbers between -2147483648 and 2147483647 8 bytes can store numbers between -9223372036854775808 and 9223372036854775807 Adding in binary is just like normal addition with carrying But when you run out of bits you can 't carry any more Leftmost bit indicates sign, so carrying to the leftmost bit changes a number from positive to negative.

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Below is a list of each of the accepted disk drive space values. It is important to realize that not all manufacturers and developers list their value using binary, which is base 2.

For this page, we are using the “common names” and listing all values in base 2. Netball values are listed as whole numbers, which means a GB shows it can only contain one 650 MB CD.

Technically, 1 GB could hold 1.5753 CDs worth of data, but this page isn't meant to show you how many “parts” of an object a valuecanhold. More plainly, you can only fit one complete 650 MB CD on a 1 GB drive since two full 650 MB discs exceed 1 GB.

When referring to storage, bytes are used whereas data transmission speeds are measured in bits. 640 web pages (with 1.6 MB average file size).

349,525 digital pictures (with 3 MB average file size). A petabyte is 1,125,899,906,842,624 (2 50) bytes, 1,024 terabytes, 1,048,576 gigabytes, or 1,073,741,824 megabytes.

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An exabyte is 1,152,921,504,606,846,976 (2 60) bytes, 1,024 petabytes, 1,048,576 terabytes, 1,073,741,824 gigabytes, or 1,099,511,627,776 megabytes. 687,194,767,360 web pages (with 1.6 MB average file size).

366,503,875,925 digital pictures (with 3 MB average file size). A zettabyte is 1,180,591,620,717,411,303,424 (2 70) bytes, 1,024 exabytes, 1,048,576 petabytes, 1,073,741,824 terabytes, 1,099,511,627,776 gigabytes, or 1,125,899,910,000,000 megabytes.

703,687,443,750,000 web pages (with 1.6 MB average file size). 375,299,970,000,000 digital pictures (with 3 MB average file size).

A zettabyte is 1,208,925,819,614,629,174,706,176 (2 80) bytes, 1,024 zettabytes, 1,048,576 exabytes, 1,073,741,824 petabytes, 1,099,511,627,776 terabytes, 1,125,899,910,000,000 gigabytes, or 1,152,921,500,000,000,000 megabytes. 720,575,937,500,000,000 web pages (with 1.6 MB average file size).

384,307,166,666,666,666 digital pictures (with 3 MB average file size). As of 2018, there are no approved standard sizes for anything bigger than a zettabyte.

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Tiptoe can also use our search engine to search engine and our conversion tool also to convert and compare between values.

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