Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A unit of data equal to eight bits. Computer memory is often expressed in megabytes or gigabytes.
  • noun A set of bits constituting the smallest unit of addressable memory in a given computer, typically eight bits.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun computing A sequence of adjacent bits (binary digits) that can be operated on as a unit by a computer; the smallest usable machine word; nearly always eight bits, which can represent an integer from 0 to 255 or a single character of text.
  • noun computing A unit of computing storage equal to eight bits

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a sequence of 8 bits (enough to represent one character of alphanumeric data) processed as a single unit of information

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Alteration and blend of bit and bite.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Expansion of bit, coined by Dr. Werner Buchholz in July 1956, during the early design phase for the IBM Stretch computer.

Examples

  • "The name is allegedly based on Jobs' favorite fruit and the logo chosen to play on both the company name and the word byte."

    Homepage CP Container

  • The bite out of its side was a play on the word "byte" and kept it from being confused with a tomato.

    Gizmodo

  • Now every little bit and byte is potentially dissected and analyzed meaning a comment on a blog can impact relationships in communities, at work, etc.

    Who Are You People? « PubliCola

  • Whereas a digital byte is mostly 8 binary digits, a DNA byte (called a codon) has three digits.

    DNA seen through the eyes of a coder « Isegoria

  • That byte is much more taxing than a byte coming from an uber-server that is one hop from the backbone.

    BitTorrent, not the movie

  • Sure it’s all little in byte size, but when you add up the numbers, I’m sure that’s Gbits of bandwidth that could be utilized more efficiently.

    EXTRALIFE – By Scott Johnson - Sometimes this site gets crazy spam

  • By what might be called a byte-by-byte leadership style.

    Turning an ocean liner in an era of speedboats

  • Currently, the complex series of ones and zeroes that move at high speed through millions of miles of cables and airwaves are treated equally -- a byte is a byte is a byte, whether yours, mine or Bill Gates '.

    A Plea for Net Neutrality

  • And it's hard for me to talk about it in, you know, in a seven or eight minute sound byte, which is why I haven't done television on it, with one exception which was "48 Hours."

    CNN Transcript May 20, 2003

  • And it's hard for me to talk about it in, you know, in a seven or eight minute sound byte, which is why I haven't done television on it, with one exception which was "48 Hours."

    CNN Transcript May 24, 2003

Comments

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  • A contraction of 'by eight.'

    May 7, 2008

  • Answers gives a different etymology.

    May 7, 2008