The language we use to communicate with each other is comprised of words and characters. We understand numbers, characters and words. But this type of data is not suitable for computers. Computers only understand the numbers.

Computers represent data in sets of binary digits. The representation is composed of bits, which in turn are grouped into larger sets such as bytes.

A bit is a binary digit that represents one of two states. The concept of a bit can be understood as a value of either 1 or 0, on or off, yes or no, true or false, or encoded by a switch or toggle of some kind.

While a single bit, on its own, is able to represent only two values, a string of bits may be used to represent larger values.

A byte is a bit string containing the number of bits needed to represent a character. On most modern computers, this is an eight bit string.

The Number Systems used in computers are:

  • Binary number system ( 0, 1)
  • Octal number system ( 0 – 7 )
  • Decimal number system ( 0 – 9 )
  • Hexadecimal number system ( 0 – 9, A, B, C, D, E, F )

Comparison of values in different bases:

Decimal valueBinary valueOctal valueHexadecimal value
00000000000
10000010101
20000100202
30000110303
40001000404
50001010505
60001100606
70001110707
80010001008
90010011109
10001010120A
11001011130B
12001100140C
13001101150D
14001110160E
15001111170F

A nibble, is a number composed of four bits. Being a half-byte, the nibble was named as a play on words.

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