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What Does Byte Mean?

A byte is a storage unit capable of representing a single character, such as a letter, number or symbol. Technically speaking, a byte is a sequence of binary bits in a serialized data stream in data transmission systems. In most computers, one byte is equated to eight smaller units called bits, although the size of a byte has always been dependent on hardware.


As specified in IEC80000-13 and IEEE 1541, the symbol for byte is an upper-case “B”.

Techopedia Explains Byte

A byte is capable of holding a string that is needed in larger application processing. For large amounts of memory, prefixes are added to bytes. For example:

  • Kilobyte = 1024 bytes
  • Megabyte = 1048576 bytes
  • Gigabyte = 1073741824 bytes.

Most computer applications compare size and transfer rates in larger multiples of bytes like kilobytes and megabytes.

Some programming languages also make use of bytes as a data type. For example, C and C++ makes use of bytes as a data type and define bytes as the addressable unit for data storage capable of holding a single character.


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