What Does Bit Mean?

A bit, short for binary digit, is defined as the most basic unit of data in telecommunications and computing. Each bit is represented by either a 1 or a 0 and this can be executed in various systems through a two-state device. A computer not only initiates multiple instructions that can manipulate and test bits, but it also performs these instructions and stores accumulated data in eight-bit parcels called bytes.


Techopedia Explains Bit

A bit is the most basic unit in computer machine language. All instructions that the computer executes and the data that it processes is made up of a group of bits. Bits are represented in many forms either through electrical voltage, current pulses, or by the state of an electronic flip-flop circuit. Most positive logic devices represent the binary digit 1 as a logical true value, while 0 is a logical false. The difference between them is expressed via voltage levels. In the most basic sense, this is how information is expressed and transmitted in computing.

Bits may be used to describe a computer's processing power in terms of the number of bits a computer can process at one time. In graphics, the number of bits used to represent each dot will reflect the quality, color and clarity of the image. Bits are also widely used to measure network transmission, or the number of bits per second transmitted over a network.

In a computer, the most common storage unit is a byte, which consists of eight consecutive bits and is equivalent to one alphanumeric character. Computer storage components, such as disks, files and databases, tend to have storage capacities expressed in bytes rather than bits.


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Margaret Rouse

Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…