Updated: 08/03/2018 by Computer Hope

Computer Bit and ByteSometimes abbreviated as b, a bit is short for binary digit and is a single unit of information that can have a value of either 0 or 1 (off or on, false or true, low or high). Eight bits make a byte, as shown in the picture. So, if you had two bytes (word) it would be 16 bits (2 x 8=16) and 10 bytes would be 80 bits (10 x 8=80).

Tip: Because all information on your computer (even a single character) is larger than a bit, the smallest unit of measurement used to measure the size of a file is a byte.

What comes before a bit?

A bit is the smallest unit of computer measurement which means nothing comes before a bit.

What comes after a bit?

A nibble comes after a bit, although it is more common for a nibble to be skipped and for a byte to come after a bit.

Bits in a computer processor

With early computer processors (e.g., 8088 and 80286) the processors were 16-bit processors, which means the processor were capable of working with 16-bit binary numbers (decimal number up to 65,535). Anything larger and the computer would need to break up the number into smaller pieces. Later processors where 32-bit, which are capable of up to 32-bit binary numbers (decimal number up to 4,294,967,295). Today's computers are 64-bit, which are capable of up to 64-bit binary numbers (decimal number over 18 quintillion).

Bits in color

When working with colors and trying to determine the number of colors in a bit color depth, this can be calculated by 2 to the power of the bit color. In other words, an 8-bit color would be 2^8 = 256 colors.

Bit vs. other data measurements

Below is a listing of byte values in comparison to other units of measurements.

Bit (b) Value
Bit in a Bit (b) 1
Bits in a Nibble (N) 4
Bits in a Byte (B) 8
Bits in a Kilobit (Kb) 1,000
Bits in a Kilobyte (KB) 8,000
Bits in a Kibibit (Kib) 1,024
Bits in a Kibibyte (KiB) 8,192
Bits in a Megabit (Mb) 1,000,000
Bits in a Megabyte (MB) 8,000,000
Bits in a Mebibit (Mib) 1,049,000
Bits in a Mebibyte (MiB) 8,389,000
Bits in a Gigabit (Gb) 1,000,000,000
Bits in a Gigabyte (GB) 8,000,000,000
Bits in a Gibibit (Gib) 1,000,000,000
Bits in a Gibibyte (GiB) 8,590,000,000
Bits in a Terabit (Tb) 1,000,000,000,000
Bits in a Terabyte (TB) 8,000,000,000,000
Bits in a Tebibit (Tib) 1,100,000,000,000
Bits in a Tebibyte (TiB) 8,796,000,000,000
Bits in a Petabit (Pb) 1,000,000,000,000,000
Bits in a Petabyte (PB) 8,000,000,000,000,000
Bits in a Pebibit (Pib) 1,126,000,000,000,000
Bits in a Pebibyte (PiB) 9,007,200,000,000,000
Bits in an Exabit (Eb) 1,000,000,000,000,000,000
Bits in an Exabyte (EB) 8,000,000,000,000,000,000
Bits in an Exbibit (Eib) 1,152,921,500,000,000,000
Bits in an Exbibyte (EiB) 9,223,372,040,000,000,000
Bits in a Zettabyte (ZB) 8,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
Bits in a Yottabyte (YB) 8,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000

BER, Binary, Bit stuffing, Bitrate, Check bits, Hard drive terms, Qubit, Measurement, Nibble, Parity bit, Start bit, Stop bit