Timeline of binary prefixes

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This timeline of binary prefixes lists events in the history of the evolution, development, and use of units of measure which are germane to the definition of the binary prefixes by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) in 1998, [1] used primarily with units of information such as the bit and the byte.


Historically, computers have used many systems of internal data representation, [2] methods of operating on data elements, and data addressing. Early decimal computers included the ENIAC, UNIVAC 1, IBM 702, IBM 705, IBM 650, IBM 1400 series, and IBM 1620. Early binary addressed computers included Zuse Z3, Colossus, Whirlwind, AN/FSQ-7, IBM 701, IBM 704, IBM 709, IBM 7030, IBM 7090, IBM 7040, IBM System/360 and DEC PDP series.

Decimal systems typically had memory configured in whole decimal multiples, e.g., blocks of 100 and later 1,000. The unit abbreviation 'K' or 'k' if it was used, represented multiplication by 1,000. Binary memory had sizes of powers of two or small multiples thereof. In this context, 'K' or 'k' was sometimes used to denote multiples of 1,024 units or just the approximate size, e.g., either '64K' or '65K' for 65,536 (216).









































Formatted CapacitySA410
Single/Double Density
Single/Double Density
Per Disk204.8/409.6 KBytes409.6/819.2 KBytes
Per Surface204.8/409.6 KBytes204.8/409.6 KBytes
Per Track2.56/5.12 KBytes2.56/5.12 KBytes

The same data sheet uses MByte in a decimal sense.




Formatted CapacitySingle Sided
Single/Double Density
Double Sided
Single/Double Density
Per Disk204.8/409.6 kbytes409.6/819.2 kbytes
Per Surface204.8/409.6 kbytes204.8/409.6 kbytes
Per Track2.56/5.12 kbytes2.56/5.12 kbytes

Shugart Associates, one of the leading FD companies used k in a decimal sense.







K (kilo)1,024 = 210
M (mega)1,048,576 = 220
G (giga)1,073,741,824 = 230




















  • "The rate the file is being transferred in KiB/s (kibibytes per second, where 1 kibibyte equals 1024 bytes.)"













Related Research Articles

The bit is the most basic unit of information in computing and digital communications. The name is a portmanteau of binary digit. The bit represents a logical state with one of two possible values. These values are most commonly represented as either "1" or "0", but other representations such as true/false, yes/no, on/off, or +/ are also widely used.

The byte is a unit of digital information that most commonly consists of eight bits. Historically, the byte was the number of bits used to encode a single character of text in a computer and for this reason it is the smallest addressable unit of memory in many computer architectures. To disambiguate arbitrarily sized bytes from the common 8-bit definition, network protocol documents such as the Internet Protocol refer to an 8-bit byte as an octet. Those bits in an octet are usually counted with numbering from 0 to 7 or 7 to 0 depending on the bit endianness. The first bit is number 0, making the eighth bit number 7.

A binary prefix is a unit prefix that indicates a multiple of a unit of measurement by an integer power of two. The most commonly used binary prefixes are kibi (symbol Ki, meaning 210 = 1024), mebi (Mi, 220 = 1048576), and gibi (Gi, 230 = 1073741824). They are most often used in information technology as multipliers of bit and byte, when expressing the capacity of storage devices or the size of computer files.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gigabyte</span> Unit of digital information

The gigabyte is a multiple of the unit byte for digital information. The prefix giga means 109 in the International System of Units (SI). Therefore, one gigabyte is one billion bytes. The unit symbol for the gigabyte is GB.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hard disk drive</span> Electro-mechanical data storage device

A hard disk drive (HDD), hard disk, hard drive, or fixed disk, is an electro-mechanical data storage device that stores and retrieves digital data using magnetic storage with one or more rigid rapidly rotating platters coated with magnetic material. The platters are paired with magnetic heads, usually arranged on a moving actuator arm, which read and write data to the platter surfaces. Data is accessed in a random-access manner, meaning that individual blocks of data can be stored and retrieved in any order. HDDs are a type of non-volatile storage, retaining stored data when powered off. Modern HDDs are typically in the form of a small rectangular box.

The kilobyte is a multiple of the unit byte for digital information. The International System of Units (SI) defines the prefix kilo as a multiplication factor of 1000 (103); therefore, one kilobyte is 1000 bytes. The internationally recommended unit symbol for the kilobyte is kB.

The kilobit is a multiple of the unit bit for digital information or computer storage. The prefix kilo- (symbol k) is defined in the International System of Units (SI) as a multiplier of 103 (1 thousand), and therefore,

The megabyte is a multiple of the unit byte for digital information. Its recommended unit symbol is MB. The unit prefix mega is a multiplier of 1000000 (106) in the International System of Units (SI). Therefore, one megabyte is one million bytes of information. This definition has been incorporated into the International System of Quantities.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">IBM System/360</span> IBM mainframe computer family (1964–1977)

The IBM System/360 (S/360) is a family of mainframe computer systems that was announced by IBM on April 7, 1964, and delivered between 1965 and 1978. It was the first family of computers designed to cover both commercial and scientific applications and a complete range of applications from small to large. The design distinguished between architecture and implementation, allowing IBM to release a suite of compatible designs at different prices. All but the only partially compatible Model 44 and the most expensive systems use microcode to implement the instruction set, featuring 8-bit byte addressing and binary, decimal and hexadecimal floating-point calculations.

The megabit is a multiple of the unit bit for digital information. The prefix mega (symbol M) is defined in the International System of Units (SI) as a multiplier of 106 (1 million), and therefore

An order of magnitude is usually a factor of ten. Thus, four orders of magnitude is a factor of 10,000 or 104.

IBM manufactured magnetic disk storage devices from 1956 to 2003, when it sold its hard disk drive business to Hitachi. Both the hard disk drive (HDD) and floppy disk drive (FDD) were invented by IBM and as such IBM's employees were responsible for many of the innovations in these products and their technologies. The basic mechanical arrangement of hard disk drives has not changed since the IBM 1301. Disk drive performance and characteristics are measured by the same standards now as they were in the 1950s. Few products in history have enjoyed such spectacular declines in cost and physical size along with equally dramatic improvements in capacity and performance.

A unit prefix is a specifier or mnemonic that is prepended to units of measurement to indicate multiples or fractions of the units. Units of various sizes are commonly formed by the use of such prefixes. The prefixes of the metric system, such as kilo and milli, represent multiplication by positive or negative powers of ten. In information technology it is common to use binary prefixes, which are based on powers of two. Historically, many prefixes have been used or proposed by various sources, but only a narrow set has been recognised by standards organisations.

File size is a measure of how much data a computer file contains or, alternately, how much storage it consumes. Typically, file size is expressed in units of measurement based on the byte. By convention, file size units use either a metric prefix or a binary prefix.

IEEE 1541-2002 is a standard issued in 2002 by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) concerning the use of prefixes for binary multiples of units of measurement related to digital electronics and computing. IEEE 1541-2021 revises and supersedes IEEE 1541–2002, which is 'inactive'.

The octet is a unit of digital information in computing and telecommunications that consists of eight bits. The term is often used when the term byte might be ambiguous, as the byte has historically been used for storage units of a variety of sizes.

In 1953, IBM recognized the immediate application for what it termed a "Random Access File" having high capacity and rapid random access at a relatively low cost. After considering technologies such as wire matrices, rod arrays, drums, drum arrays, etc., the engineers at IBM's San Jose California laboratory invented the hard disk drive. The disk drive created a new level in the computer data hierarchy, then termed Random Access Storage but today known as secondary storage, less expensive and slower than main memory but faster and more expensive than tape drives.

The JEDEC memory standards are the specifications for semiconductor memory circuits and similar storage devices promulgated by the Joint Electron Device Engineering Council (JEDEC) Solid State Technology Association, a semiconductor trade and engineering standardization organization.

In telecommunications, data-transfer rate is the average number of bits (bitrate), characters or symbols (baudrate), or data blocks per unit time passing through a communication link in a data-transmission system. Common data rate units are multiples of bits per second (bit/s) and bytes per second (B/s). For example, the data rates of modern residential high-speed Internet connections are commonly expressed in megabits per second (Mbit/s).

In digital computing and telecommunications, a unit of information is the capacity of some standard data storage system or communication channel, used to measure the capacities of other systems and channels. In information theory, units of information are also used to measure information contained in messages and the entropy of random variables.


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