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What is a Bit and What is a Byte?

You have heard these terms mentioned frequently in reference to the size of a file, the size of a folder, the size of your entire hard drive as well as the size of the memory installed in your computer. These Bits and Bytes usually contain a prefix denoting their size in thousands, millions and even billions. But you don't have to pay much attention to this now as they will be covered in full later.

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What is a Bit and What is a Byte?

Every time you type a single character on your keyboard such as the letter "T" within a text program, this single keyboard character consist of eight Bits of information or one Byte. For example, if you type the word "Keyboard" into the Windows WordPad program, this word consists of eight letters and is equivalent to eight Bytes of information. The information is actually written in computer code and for now just get the concept that one keyboard character equals eight Bits of information or one Byte of information. Now let's talk about the Byte. A Byte simply consists of eight Bits of information and that's all there is regarding it.

What is a Kilobyte?

Per the American Heritage dictionary, a kilobyte is a unit of measurement of the memory capacity equal to 1,024 bytes. Definition number two states: One thousand bytes. And as computer information is based on two units consisting of digital 0's and 1's, 2 to the 10th power equates to the number 1,024 listed above. But for our purposes, simply think of a Kilobyte to mean 1,000 Bytes and its abbreviation is either K or KB.

If we use our simple keyboard character information listed above, we can calculate how many keyboard characters we can type into a Kilobyte of information. As one Byte equals eight keyboard characters of information, and we have 1,000 Bytes in a Kilobyte, we can conclude that a Kilobyte will allow us to type eight thousand keyboard characters of information. These figures are rough estimates, but they can be accurately used to help you understand the concepts. For instance, if you add a name to your Note Pad file when you save it, this naming process will take up a small amount of information to the file itself etc.

What is a Megabyte?

Per the American Heritage dictionary, a Megabyte is a unit of storage capacity equal to 1,048,576 bytes. Definition number two states: One million bytes. As computer information is based on two units consisting of digital 0's and 1's, 2 to the 20th power equates to the number 1,048,576 listed above. But for our purposes, simply think of a Megabyte to mean 1,000,000 Bytes and its abbreviation is written as MB.

If we use our simple keyboard character information listed above, we can calculate how many keyboard characters we can type into a Megabyte of information. As one Byte equals one keyboard character of information, and we have 1,000,000 Bytes in a Megabyte, we can conclude that a Megabyte will allow us to type one million keyboard characters of information. We can also conclude that one Megabyte of computer memory can randomly store one million keyboard characters of information. You should now be able to see how these terms align themselves with each other and be able to think with them now.

What is a Gigabyte?

Per the American Heritage dictionary, a Gigabyte is a unit of information equal to one billion bytes. We'll skip the technical details so you can simply think of a Gigabyte to mean 1,000,000,000, abbreviated as GB.

If we use our simple keyboard character information listed above, we can calculate how many keyboard characters we can type into a Gigabyte of information. As one Byte equals one keyboard character of information, and we have 1,000,000,000 Bytes in a Gigabyte, we can conclude that a Gigabyte will allow us to type one billion keyboard characters of information. The term Gigabyte is commonly associated with to the size of hard drives and also the amount of memory now used in modern computers. Therefore, one billion keyboard characters of information can fit onto a one Gigabyte hard drive.

Therefore, I hope that the above information was useful to you and that you now have a deeper understanding of how these terms relate to each other and to the components in your computer system.

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