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Binary digit

The smallest unit of information recognized by a computer.

A computer is made of circuits. In each circuit, an electric signal is either present or absent. Since the circuit has only two states, it can be instructed to change or remain the same by computer code written using 1s and 0s. A 1 indicates a circuit should be on, 0 indicates off. Any form of information can be represented in code as a combination of 1s and 0s; therefore, any data can be stored in a computer as a combination of on and off circuits. Computers are so accurate because a bit is a clear, unambiguous signal.

It takes about 80,000 bits to represent the text on a single page of double-spaced, typewritten text; 56,000 bits to represent one second of speech; 10,000,000 bits to represent one second of TV video.
see also : analog , byte , digital
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