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Related to bits: beats, Bits and Bytes, Bytes


see drilldrill,
tool used to create a hole, usually in some hard substance, by its rotary or hammering action. Many different tools make up the drill family. The awl is a pointed instrument used for piercing small holes.
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part of the bridle of a horse’s harness. Bits appeared in the late Bronze Age, when the horse was first used as a beast of burden. Originally they were made of soft material (sinew) and were secured in the horse’s mouth by bone cheekpieces. Bronze bits and cheekpieces appeared at the turn of the first millennium B.C., and iron bits were prevalent in the seventh and sixth centuries B.C. Iron snaffles with movable rings at the ends were used in Rus’. In the late Middle Ages, bits were very intricate and sometimes richly ornamented. Modern bits consist of two parts and have snaffle rings.


(computer science)
A unit of information content equal to one binary decision or the designation of one of two possible and equally likely values or states of anything used to store or convey information.
A dimensionless unit of storage capacity specifying that the capacity of a storage device is expressed by the logarithm to the base 2 of the number of possible states of the device.
(design engineering)
A machine part for drilling or boring.
The cutting plate of a plane.
The blade of a cutting tool such as an ax.
A removable tooth of a saw.
Any cutting device which is attached to or part of a drill rod or drill string to bore or penetrate rocks.
In a pure binary numeration system, either of the digits 0 or 1. Also known as bigit; binary digit.
In soldering, the portion of the iron that transfers either heat or solder to the joint involved.


A binary digit. In the computer, electronics, and communications fields, “bit” is generally understood as a shortened form of “binary digit.” In a numerical binary system, a bit is either a 0 or 1. Bits are generally used to indicate situations that can take one of two values or one of two states, for example, on and off, true or false, or yes or no. If, by convention, 1 represents a particular state, then 0 represents the other state. For example, if 1 stands for “yes,” then 0 stands for “no.”

In a computer system a bit is thought of as the basic unit of memory where, by convention, only either a 0 or 1 can be stored. In a computer memory, consecutive bits are grouped to form smaller or larger “units” of memory. Depending upon the design of the computer, units up to 64 bits long have been considered. Although there is common agreement as to the number of bits that make up a byte, for larger memory units the terminology depends entirely on the convention used by the manufacturer. In all of these units the leftmost bit is generally called the most significant bit (msb) and the rightmost the least significant bit (lsb).

Bytes and larger units can be used to represent numerical quantities. In these cases the most significant bit is used to indicate the “sign” of the value being represented. By convention a 0 in the msb represents a positive quantity; a 1 represents a negative quantity. Depending on the convention used to represent these numbers, the remaining bits may then be used to represent the numerical value. In addition to numerical quantities, bytes are used to represent characters inside a computer. These characters include all letters of the English alphabet, the digits 0 through 9, and symbols such as comma, period, right and left parentheses, spaces, and tabs. Characters can be represented using ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange) or EBCDIC (Extended Binary Coded Decimal Interchange Code). The latter is used by some mainframe computers. Computers are set up to handle only one of these two character codes. Generally, the internal representation of a character is different in the two codes. For instance, in ASCII the plus sign is represented by the numerical sequence 00101011, and in EBCDIC, by 01001110.


bit, 1
1. A small tool which fits in the chuck of a brace or drill, and by which it is rotated—thereby cutting or boring a hole.
2. The projecting blade of a key which is cut in a manner to actuate the tumblers and permit the lock bolts to be operated.
3. That part of a soldering iron which transfers heat and solder to the joint.
4. The cutting edge of a plane.


1. a metal mouthpiece, for controlling a horse on a bridle
2. a cutting or drilling tool, part, or head in a brace, drill, etc
3. the blade of a woodworking plane
4. the part of a pair of pincers designed to grasp an object
5. the copper end of a soldering iron
6. the part of a key that engages the levers of a lock


2 Maths Computing
1. a single digit of binary notation, represented either by 0 or by 1
2. the smallest unit of information, indicating the presence or absence of a single feature
3. a unit of capacity of a computer, consisting of an element of its physical structure capable of being in either of two states, such as a switch with on and off positions, or a microscopic magnet capable of alignment in two directions


(b) binary digit.

The unit of information; the amount of information obtained by asking a yes-or-no question; a computational quantity that can take on one of two values, such as false and true or 0 and 1; the smallest unit of storage - sufficient to hold one bit.

A bit is said to be "set" if its value is true or 1, and "reset" or "clear" if its value is false or 0. One speaks of setting and clearing bits. To toggle or "invert" a bit is to change it, either from 0 to 1 or from 1 to 0.

The term "bit" first appeared in print in the computer-science sense in 1949, and seems to have been coined by the eminent statistician, John Tukey. Tukey records that it evolved over a lunch table as a handier alternative to "bigit" or "binit".

See also flag, trit, mode bit, byte, word.


(1) (Built-In Test) See BIST.

(2) (BInary digiT) The smallest element of computer storage. It is a single digit in a binary number (0 or 1). The bit is physically a transistor or capacitor in a memory cell, a magnetic domain on disk or tape, a reflective spot on optical media or a high or low voltage pulsing through a circuit.

Bits for Transmission
Bits are widely used as a measurement for network transmission. One hundred megabits per second means that 100 million pulses are transmitted per second.

Bytes for Storage
Groups of bits make up storage units in the computer, called "characters," "bytes," or "words," which are manipulated as a group. The most common is the byte, made up of eight bits and equivalent to one alphanumeric character. Measurements for storage components, such as disks, files and databases, are given in bytes rather than bits. See space/time.

Storage - Making it Smaller
Making the spot or cell smaller increases the storage capacity. Our disks hold staggering amounts of data compared to 10 years ago, yet we still want more. Look up holographic storage for a look into a fascinating future of storage technology.

Transmission - Making it Faster
The bit is transmitted as a pulse of high or low voltage. Speed is increased by making the transistors open and close faster, which is a combination of making the microscopic elements within the transistor smaller and more durable.
References in classic literature ?
Let us, then, push for the place, and relieve our doubts," said the impatient Duncan; "the party must be small that can lie on such a bit of land.
My handsome appearance and good paces soon brought a gentleman to bid for me, and I was bought by another dealer; he tried me in all kinds of ways and with different bits, and he soon found out what I could not bear.
We got an old tin lantern, and a butcher-knife with- out any handle, and a bran-new Barlow knife worth two bits in any store, and a lot of tallow candles, and a tin candlestick, and a gourd, and a tin cup, and a ratty old bedquilt off the bed, and a reticule with needles and pins and beeswax and buttons and thread and all such truck in it, and a hatchet and some nails, and a fishline as thick as my little finger with some mon- strous hooks on it, and a roll of buckskin, and a leather dog-collar, and a horseshoe, and some vials of medicine that didn't have no label on them; and just as we was leaving I found a tolerable good curry-comb, and Jim he found a ratty old fiddle-bow, and a wooden leg.
He tottered to his secretary in the corner, repeated that lament again and again in heartbreaking tones, and got out of a drawer a paper, which he slowly tore to bits, scattering the bits absently in his track as he walked up and down the room, still grieving and lamenting.
He got out his worldly wealth and examined it -- bits of toys, marbles, and trash; enough to buy an exchange of WORK, maybe, but not half enough to buy so much as half an hour of pure freedom.
Between the blossoming branches of the canopy bits of blue sky looked down like wonderful eyes.
English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Georges, and Louises, doubloons and double guineas and moidores and sequins, the pictures of all the kings of Europe for the last hundred years, strange Oriental pieces stamped with what looked like wisps of string or bits of spider's web, round pieces and square pieces, and pieces bored through the middle, as if to wear them round your neck--nearly every variety of money in the world must, I think, have found a place in that collection; and for number, I am sure they were like autumn leaves, so that my back ached with stooping and my fingers with sorting them out.
The superfices was composed of several bits of wood, about the bigness of a die, but some larger than others.
The smell of meat attracted various hungry dogs in the neighbourhood, and they gathered round the door begging for some bits.
He cut up the rest of the body into little bits and strewed them to the four winds.
AT length there was a pitter- patter, pitter-patter, and some bits of mortar fell from the wall above.
Mounted upon white steeds which pawed the ground, champing their golden bits.