Sunday, October 16, 2005

Nibble or Nybble?

A reader has suggested that the correct spelling for "Nibble" (in a computer science context) should be "Nybble". The truth is that both spellings are correct, although "nibble" is probably the most common. According to a Wikipedia entry on the subject,
The term nibble originates from the fact that the term byte is a pun on the English word bite. A nibble is a small bite, or half a bite. The nybble spelling parallels the spelling of byte.

Many references suggest that both "nibble" and "nybble" represent 4 bits or half a bite. Others maintain that 1 nybble represents 8 nibbles in the same way that 1 byte represents 8 bits.


Lets said...

I have always heard that a nybble (or nibble) is half a byte. My comp. sci. instructor said it was 2 bytes however.

Lincoln-nerd said...

You're right, your instructor is WRONG.
A nybble is 4 bits, there are 2 nybbles in a byte. In the olden days of computers, two bytes were called a word.
Good Job

Roedy said...

Word is the natural size chunk a computer uses. DEC PDP had 16 bits. Univac had 36 bits, the IBM 360 had 32 bits, the Burroughs 1700 had 24 bits, the CDC 6600 had 60 bits.

The original byte was 12 bits -- a term used in very early IBM disc drives.