Re: [OT] bits and bytes

From: Gaute B Strokkenes (
Date: Thu May 17 2001 - 20:21:43 EDT

On Thu, 17 May 2001, wrote:
> I seem to recall not long ago hearing of some machine architechtures
> that have used large bytes, i.e. high number of bits per byte. I
> think at some point I heard mention of a 36-bit byte, but one of my
> colleagues questioned that (he once worked with a 36-bit
> architecture, but says it was actually using 9-bit bytes).
> Can anyone clarify for me how big a byte has ever been? (If you
> could identify the particular hardware, that would be helpful.)

The word byte, although now almost universally interpreted as eight
bits, originally meant the smallest amount of memory directly
addressable by a given computer. Partly for this reason, the word
octet has become common in standardese recently. I think the PDP-11
and friends were not eight bit, but this was all _way_ before my time
so I wouldn't know for sure.

Big Gaute                     
I'm in DISGUISE as a BAGGAGE CHECKER....I can watch the house, if it's

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