** The incredible shrinking BYTE **

A few thoughts about data storage and modern computers !

There is no doubt about it, BYTE's are getting SMALLER

and Smaller

and Smaller
and smaller

Data storage in the Data Processing Industry was only needed to store the image of a Punched card. And that image was only required to do logical comparisons, ( collating ) or simple arithmetic on part of the cards data. The size of the card depended on the company who made your equipment, that could be either 80 column's by 12 indexes ( 80 x 12 = 960 bits of data ) or as small as ( 21 x 11 = 221 bits of data ).

With the advent of computers, data memory was semi-standardized as words of data, ( the size of a register in the computer ) again that was proportional to the manufacturer, so samples were 48 bits, 36 bits, 24 bits, 16 bits, 12 bits, 9 bits, 8 bits and even 6 bits.
( If we ignore calculators which could even use as little as 4 bits then the minimum becomes 6 bits or a character. )

As character sets expanded, the limit of 6 bits was soon exceeded, and 8 bits became a standard. The naming convention is based on the words ( BY EIGHT ).

More modern computers, started to use integrated circuits and these in turn adopted the BYTE standard for memories. As happens a lot in this industry, the 16 byte chip was replaced with the 64 byte chip, which gave way to the 128 byte chip. And soon the 1024 Byte and 4096 byte chips were the standard. As this ongoing ability to build bigger and bigger chip capacities, continued to expand the second phenomena started to be noticed, which was that the chip sizes were also shrinking, so more data was going into smaller and smaller packages.

As this happened the size of memories have expanded exponentially, and the restrictions placed on programmers, to keep program size limited were reduced. Where in the past a company payroll had to be run in a 16 Kilo Bytes store, including the data area's. Now data records themselves started to reach this size.


So here are a few direct comparisons for the number conscious among us !

1 Byte = 8 bits
1 Kilo Byte = ( one thousand bytes ) = 1024 bytes
1 Mega Byte = ( one million bytes ) = 1,048,576 bytes
1 Giga Byte = ( one thousand, million bytes ) = 1,073,741,824
1 Tera Byte = ( one million, million bytes ) = 10,099,511,627,780
1 Peta Byte = ( one thousand, million, million bytes ) = 1,125,899,906,842,624

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