DoubleClicks.info About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

July 30, 2013

A Little Nexus and a Lot of Numbers

I got a couple of questions about my Nexus usage from last week so here is a short look at the answers.  I do watch videos on occasion especially when traveling for work, etc.  I have accounts with Netflix and Comcast so I can watch their offerings.  There are many of the major cable/broadcast networks have sites that will stream videos.  The videos look and play great.  You cannot stream videos from Hulu; however, you can from Hulu Plus thanks to the Hulu marketing department ($).  For music Pandora (easy to use) and Google Music (more geeky at Google Music) are my favorites.  There are many other great music streaming services.

OK, enough about the Nexus 7 for a while.

I will now tackle one question that I seem to get every now and then and have not tried to explain in many years.

It is all about sizes of computer “stuff.”  Every now and again I get the question, “How many floppy disks will a CD hold?”, “What is a bit or a byte?” or “How much does a GB hold?”  So here we go with a short discussion.

The smallest measurement where it all starts is the “bit”.  The word bit comes from what it is a “Binary digIT“.  It is pronounced the way you normally pronounce bit like, “A mosquito just bit me!”  Bits are either a one (1) or a zero (0).

The next one may sound a little more familiar; the “byte”.  Byte is pronounced as in “I will bite the mosquito back.”  There are eight bits to a byte.  A byte is approximately the space required to hold the data contained in one character on your computer.  This sentence is 42 characters counting spaces.  Therefore the previous sentence contains about 42 bytes or 328 bits, including the period.

Next we have the “kilobyte” which is 1,024 bytes.   Yes, kilo should indicate 1,000 even but this comes from computers using binary (base two- 1 or 0) math, instead of a decimal (base ten) system.  From here on out the measurements will be using binary math so they don’t quite match.  However, using the KISS principal and the numbers become so humongous, most computer people would refer to 10 kilobytes as being 10,000 bits.  That isn’t true, it’s actually 10,240 but we will keep it simple from here on.  For a size reference, 20 kilobytes is the approximate size of a one-page double-spaced document.

Next, the megabyte.  A floppy disk holds 1.44 megabytes (Mb) of data.  Most everyone knows what the old floppy disks hold.

Now the “Gigabyte” which is approximately 1,000 Megabytes (that isn’t precisely true, remember “binary math.”  I have read that one gigabyte of data would hold the contents of about 20,000 pages or about 60 paperback books.

The next storage sizes are (ascending order, referenced comparisons are estimates):

  • 1 Terabyte = 1000 Gigabytes about 4.5 million, 200+ page books.
  • 1 Petabyte = 1000 Terabytes, 4.7 billion books or 239,000 DVDs.
  • 1 Exabyte = 1000 Petabytes, 245 million DVDs or the average amount on data put on the internet every day.
  • 1 Zettabyte = 1000 Exabytes, 250 billion DVDs.
  • 1 Yottabyte (overtones of Star Wars) = 1000 Zettabytes, approximately 257,054,773,252,000 DVDs.
  • 1 Brontobyte (unofficial name but used by many geeks) = 1000 Yottabytes, let me think it is hard to come up with a comparison but basically more Blue Rays than you could watch in your lifetime.

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