#1,081 – Bits, Bytes and Nibbles

A bit is a unit of information in a digital computer that can take on one of two values, typically written as 0 or 1.  Information stored in digital computers was originally represented as bits because each bit could be physically represented by some electrical mechanism that could take on one of two states (e.g. a transistor, which can be on or off).

A series of eight bits is considered a byte.  (Historically, the number of bits in a byte was dependent on the hardware, but the term byte most often refers to a sequence of eight bits).


Because a byte consists of eight bits and a hexadecimal character represents four bits, you can represent a byte using two hexadecimal characters.


A byte can take on values from 0 to 255, or 0x00 to 0xFF.


Four bits (one hexadecimal character) is also know as a nibble, though this term is not as common as byte.