I am teaching the course "Introduction in Programming" for the first-year students and would like to find interesting examples where the datatype size in bits, chosen by design, led to certain known restrictions or important values.
Here are some examples:
- Due to the fact that the Bell teleprinter used 7-bit-code (later accepted as ASCII) until now have we often to encode attachments in electronic messages to contain only 7 bit data.
- Classical limitation of 32-bit address space leads to the 4Gb maximal RAM size available for 32-bit systems and 4Gb maximal file size in FAT32.
Do you know some other interesting examples how the choice of the data type (and especially its binary length) influenced the modern IT world.
Added after some discussion in comments:
I am not going to teach how to overcome limitations. I just want them to know that 1 byte can hold the values from -127..0..+127 o 0..255, 2 bytes cover the range 0..65535 etc by proving examples they know from other sources, like the above-mentioned base64 encoding etc. We are just learning the basic datatypes and I am trying to find a good reference for "how large" these types are.