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41
votes
12answers
4k views

Is there an alternative to bits?

Is there an alternative to bits as the smallest unit of data? Something that won't be only 0 or 1, but actually hold many possible states in between? Wouldn't it be more natural to store floats like ...
2
votes
1answer
222 views

Endianness at bit level

I am learning the union and struct and I wrote the code below. What I do not understand is why the output is different when I change from a little endian to a big endian machine. My understanding is ...
51
votes
6answers
27k views

What is the history of why bytes are eight bits?

What where the historical forces at work, the tradeoffs to make, in deciding to use groups of eight bits as the fundamental unit ? There were machines, once upon a time, using other word sizes, ...
3
votes
5answers
14k views

How many bits' address is required for a computer with n bytes of memory?

How many bits of address is required (for the program counter for example) in a byte-addressed computer with 512 Mbyte RAM? What does the formula look like? How is this connected with the fact that ...
3
votes
3answers
374 views

Is a 'least significant bit' used anywhere practically today?

I'm working on a library that supports file reading, and right now I've always assumed that all the bytes are written in most significant bit first format. Is the least significant bit first format ...