*What’s a bit?*

We explain to you what a bit is, what its different uses are and the methods in which this computer unit can be calculated.

A bit is the minimum unit of information used by computing.

In computing,** a value in the binary numbering system** is called a bit (*Binary digit*). This system is so called because it comprises only two basic values: 1 and 0, with which an infinite number of binary conditions can be represented: on and off, true and false, present and absent, and so on.

A bit is, then, **the minimum unit of information used by computers**, whose systems are all based on that binary code. Each bit of information represents a specific value: 1 or 0, but combining different bits you can get many more combinations, for example:

2-bit model (4 combinations):

00 – Both off

01 – First off, second on

10 – First on, second off

11 – Both on

With these two units **we can represent four punctual values**. Now suppose we have 8 bits (an octet), equivalent in some systems to a *byte*: 256 different values are obtained.

In this way, the binary system operates paying attention to the value of the bit (1 or 0) and its position in the represented string: if it is on and appears in a position to the left, its value is doubled, and if it appears to the right, it is cut in half. For example:

To represent the number 20 in binary

**Net binary value: 10100**

Numeric value per position:168421

Result:16 +0 +4 +0 + 0 = **20**

Another example: to represent the number 2.75 in binary, assuming the reference in the middle of the figure:

**Net binary value: 01011**

Numeric value per position:4210,50,25

Result:0 +2 +0 +0.5 + 0.25 = 2.**75**

The bits in value 0 (off) are not counted, only those of value 1 (on) and their numerical equivalent is given on the basis of their position in the string, thus forming a representation mechanism that will then be applied to alphanumeric characters (called ASCII).

In this way, the operations of the microprocessors of the computers are recorded: **there can be architectures of 4, 8, 16, 32 and 64 bits**.

This means that the microprocessor handles that internal number of registers, that is, the calculation capacity of the Arithmetic-Logic Unit.

For example, the first computers in the x86 series (Intel 8086 and Intel 8088) had 16-bit processors, and the noticeable difference between their speeds had to do not so much with their processing power, but with the additional help of a 16-bit and 8-bit bus respectively.

Similarly, bits are used to measure the storage capacity of a digital memory.

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