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Steven Willis sheds further light on the relationship between bytes, kilobytes and megabytes...

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Know your bits from your bytes

First, I love the newsletters. I have learned a lot from these emails.

Now, your article on the bits and bytes. I may be able to clear a few things up for your readers. As a programmer and hardware designer, I am fully aware of the difference between bits and bytes and also why 1KB is not 1000 bytes.

Here's the breakdown. Since computers are binary, there are only two states a bit can be in. To make the math a little easier, the kilobyte was not defined as 1000 bytes. It was defined as a power of 2. In this case 2 to the 10th power equals 1024. Electrical engineers also like to think in decades or powers of ten.

The next big step is 1 megabyte or 1,048,576 bytes or 2 to the 20th power. 1 gigabyte is 1,073,741,824 bytes or 2 to the 30th power. 1 terabyte is 2 to the 40th, 1 peta is 2 to the 50th, 1 exabyte is 2 to the 60th.

Electrical engineers seem to like multiples of ten, software programmers seem to like multiples of eight.

Many thanks for the advice and excellent industry information.

Steven Willis

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By David Mellor Wednesday April 6, 2005
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