It sometimes seems to me like the old days of computing were almost like the Wild West at times. There were so many units of information being used back then that, as someone born after that time, it seems like almost a wonder anyone got anything done.

Many of these units, oddly enough, were food-oriented, an observation I thought was quite amusing. I thought listing off some of these could serve as decent entertainment for you all as well. Enjoy.

All information is from The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing (FOLDOC), edited & released by Denis Howe under the GNU Free Documentation License, version 1.1.

 

I. Bit

The bit, abbreviated as b, is the most fundamental of all these units, and is equivalent to a dichotomy in effect. It is most easily defined as the question, “Yes or no?” and is represented either by a 1 or 0, respectively.

Bit is short for binary digit.

 

2. Trit

Short for ternary digit, the trit is the base-3 analogue of the bit, so whilst the bit is a question of two options, the trit is one of three, and so is represented either by a 0, 1, or 2.

Defined in a binary fashion, it is equal to 1.584 962 5 bits.

 

3. Crumb

Also sometimes called a tayste or quarter, the crumb is equal to 2 bits.

 

4. Nybble

Alternatively spelled “nibble”, the nybble is equal to ½ byte, or 4 bits.

 

5. Nickle

An acknowledging nod to the classic US five-cent coin, a nickle is equal to 5 bits, or 1.25 nybbles.

 

6. Byte

The byte, abbreviated as B, is equal to 2 nybbles, or 8 bits. Although it has long since been standardized as this quantity, with certain older hardware it had been defined differently, sometimes as 6 or 7 bits, other times as 1, 9, or even 32 or 64 bits!

 

7. Octet

Because the byte was not always defined as 8 bits, the octet was created to unequivocally mean this quantity.

 

8. Deckle

Most likely spelled “decle” initially, the deckle is equal to 10 bits, or 2 nickles.

 

9. Playte

Yet another food-related pun, the playte is equal to 16 bits, or 2 bytes.

 

10. Dynner

Continuing the tradition, the dynner is a pun on “dinner”, and is equal to 32 bits, 4 bytes, or 2 playtes.

 

Regardless whatever obsession with food past engineers seem to have had, one thing is certain: they really like their puns. In fact, one could just as easily say that they seem to have a hunger for them.

 

Summary

Name Unit Symbol Value (1st) Value (2nd) Value (3rd)
1 Bit b 1 b
2 Trit 1.584 962 5 b
3 Crumb 2 b
4 Nybble 4 b ½ B
5 Nickle 5 b 1.25 nybbles
6 Byte B 8 b 2 nybbles
7 Octet 8 b 2 nybbles
8 Deckle 10 b 2 nickles
9 Playte 16 b 2 B
10 Dynner 32 b 4 B 2 playtes

 


Image Credit: “PIXEL THE CAT (and friend)”, by Kevin Simpson.
Released under a CC BY-SA 2.0 license.
Image has not been changed.

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