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Bit bucket

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The chip receiver (or "bit bucket")[1] from a UNIVAC key punch

In computing jargon, the bit bucket (or byte bucket[2][3]) is where lost computerized data has gone, by any means; any data which does not end up where it is supposed to, being lost in transmission, a computer crash, or the like, is said to have gone to the bit bucket – that mysterious place on a computer where lost data goes, as in:

The errant byte, having failed the parity test, is unceremoniously dumped into the bit bucket, the computer's wastepaper basket.

— Erik Sandberg-Diment, New York Times, 1985.[4]

Millions of dollars in time and research data gone into the bit-bucket?

— W. Paul Blase, The Washington Post, 1990.[5]



Originally, the bit bucket was the container on teletype machines or IBM key punch machines into which chad from the paper tape punch or card punch was deposited;[1] the formal name is "chad box" or (at IBM) "chip box". The term was then generalized into any place where useless bits go, a useful computing concept known as the null device. The term bit bucket is also used in discussions of bit shift operations.[6]

The bit bucket is related to the first in never out buffer and write-only memory, in a joke datasheet issued by Signetics in 1972.[7]

In a 1988 April Fool's article in Compute! magazine, Atari BASIC author Bill Wilkinson presented a POKE that implemented what he called a "WORN" (Write Once, Read Never) device, "a close relative of the WORM".[8]

In programming languages the term is used to denote a bitstream which does not consume any computer resources, such as CPU or memory, by discarding any data "written" to it. In .NET Framework-based languages, it is the System.IO.Stream.Null.[9]

See also



  1. ^ a b Cutler, Donald I. (1964). Introduction to Computer Programming. Prentice-Hall. p. 108. Retrieved 2013-11-08. The lost bits fall into a container called a bit bucket. They are emptied periodically and the collected bits are used for confetti at weddings, parties, and other festive occasions.
  2. ^ "Explicit Controls". MCS-86 Assembler Operating Instructions For ISIS-II Users (A32/379/10K/CP ed.). Santa Clara, California, USA: Intel Corporation. 1978. p. 3-3. Manual Order No. 9800641A. Retrieved 2020-02-29. […] If you want a summary of errors but not a listing file this is the command: […] -ASM86 LOOT.SRC PRINT(:BB:) ERRORPRINT […] Note that the :BB: is the "byte bucket"; ISIS-II ignores I/O commands from and to this "device". It is a null device. […] [1][2]
  3. ^ "Appendix A. ASM-86 Invocation". CP/M-86 – Operating System – Programmer's Guide (PDF) (3 ed.). Pacific Grove, California, USA: Digital Research. January 1983 [1981]. p. 94: Table A-3. Device Types. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2020-02-27. Retrieved 2020-02-27. [3] (NB. Digital Research's ASM-86 uses token 'Z' (for "zero") to indicate the byte bucket.)
  4. ^ Sandberg-Diment, Erik (1985-07-09). "Parity: An Elegantly Simple Approach to Errors". The New York Times. Personal Computing. New York, N.Y., USA. p. 4. Section C. Archived from the original on 2020-02-27. Retrieved 2013-11-08.
  5. ^ Blase, W. Paul (1990-02-17). "No Harmless Hacker He". The Washington Post. Washington, D.C., USA. Archived from the original on 2017-11-23. Retrieved 2013-11-08.
  6. ^ O'Brien, Frank (2010-06-25). The Apollo Guidance Computer: Architecture and Operation (illustrated ed.). Springer Science & Business Media. p. 45. ISBN 978-1-44190877-3. Archived from the original on 2020-02-27. Retrieved 2013-11-08.
  7. ^ Curtis, John "Jack" G. (1972). "Signetics 25120 Fully Encoded, 9046xN, Random Access Write-Only-Memory" (PDF) (photocopy). Signetics. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-03-16. Retrieved 2012-03-16.
  8. ^ Wilkinson, Bill (April 1988). "That month again". Compute!. INSIGHT: Atari. No. 95. p. 56. Archived from the original on 2020-02-27. Retrieved 2020-02-27.
  9. ^ "Demonstrate the use of the Null stream as a bit bucket: Stream Null « File Stream « C# / C Sharp". java2s.com. Demo Source and Support. Archived from the original on 2020-02-27. Retrieved 2020-02-27.