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I feel this page should be turned into a disambiguation page for the several definitions it includes. --StoatBringer 20:55, 12 Sep 2004 (UTC)

I disagree, perhaps this would be better in the Wiktionary. --[[User:AllyUnion|AllyUnion (talk)]] 13:21, 15 Sep 2004 (UTC)
I updated the article. It should suit all needs now. GPHemsley 04:42, Sep 16, 2004 (UTC)

IIRC, there were further joke units corresponding to our current multi-byte units (word, double-word, etc.), including "playte" and "dynner". Might have been in the Jargon file or the Devil's Data-processing Dictionary.

I don't know if those are suitable for WP; nibble is widely and seriously used. Kaleja 15:16, 18 July 2006 (UTC)

I believe this page contains some wrong information. The word byte comes from the composition of "by eight" (you have eight bits) and is not a pun of the english word bite. 11:09, 16 February 2007 (UTC)

Yes it is. "By eight" is a clever back-formation, probably by someone who didn't want his humorless boss to think he was being funny with this "byte" stuff. In fact, for many years there was no standard length of a "byte", with various implementations using anywhere from 6 to 12 bits. - Tverbeek 03:08, 18 February 2007 (UTC)

Move to "nybble"?[edit]

In my experience, at least, "nybble" is the more common usage. It's both more useful (because unambiguous) and funnier. I propose that we move this article to "nybble" and keep "nibble" as a redirect - sound good? — ciphergoth 12:30, 30 March 2006 (UTC)

How is "nybble" more funny? It ruins the half byte/bite joke. Never heard "nybble" ever before tonight. Perhaps it is a British thing. (talk) 05:55, 25 November 2015 (UTC)
Outside of dictionaries, I've only seen "nibble" written, myself. Kaleja 15:10, 18 July 2006 (UTC)
I remember seeing nybble in my early days of computing, circa 1975 ~ 1985, but probably only in a few places (perhaps Byte magazine?). Since then, I've only seen the nibble spelling. So perhaps the more parallel spelling simply fell out of use. (I prefer nybble myself.)
I've heard from British programmers who claim the y changes the pronunciation to nigh-bl, as in the British spelling of tyre; however, this argument does not seem to hold water because of the equally valid British spelling of pyjamas.
Loadmaster 18:47, 3 October 2006 (UTC)
I looked in my undergrad computer architecture book and it uses the spelling "nibble". The book is: David A. Ptterson and John L. Hennessy (1998). Computer Organization & Design The Hardware/Software Interface 2nd ed. Morgan Kaufmann. ISBN 1558604286. 
RSRScrooge 02:22, 22 December 2006 (UTC)
Hmmph! In my day we spelled it with a y and we liked it that way, because computer science geeks still had a sense of humor. {sigh} - Tverbeek 03:00, 18 February 2007 (UTC)
Nybble is the historically accurate spelling, that is, it is the original spelling used by the person who coined the term for computer use. The "nybble" spelling was purposely used to match the "byte" spelling. This was pointed out in an editorial in Kilobaud or Byte magazines in the early eighties. Editors of various computer magazines and trade journals in the eighties took it upon themselves to "correct the spelling" in general and nybble was one of the victims. The word "byte" was used much more and had been around longer so they were unable to change it. I use the nybble spelling since I prefer to be historically accurate. Any reference to most books or publications printed after the early eighties will show the inaccurate "nibble" spelling and by definition are not valid references. It seems to me that we should spell it the way the originator spelled it and that is "nybble". Thus, the page should be titled "Nybble" and the "Nibble" page should just be a page redirected to the correctly spelled "Nybble" page. - Plan10 11:28, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
Let's move it to nybble if this really is the more correct term. It's unambiguous, more æsthetically pleasing & funnier. Anyone who adheres to the myth that the y would make it rhyme with bible really doesn't understand English orthography. It's the magic e in tyre which does this just as it does in tire, fire, wire, etc. The same is the case with rhyme, time, thyme, crime, etc. If you want a rhyme with bible, drop a b: nible or nyble. Jimp 03:30, 19 April 2007 (UTC)
I specifically looked at the Talk page to see if there was any mention of making "Nybble" the main entry. ;) I vote for the move. Davedrh
I have removed the claim that "nybble" is the historically accurate term. An entry for the word appears in the Oxford English Dictionary Online: the first recorded reference is from a book on IBM's System/360 published in 1967, and the author (D. H. Stabley) uses the spelling "nibble". If anyone can come up with earlier printed evidence, they can reinstate the claim (and I guess they'd better send the evidence to the Dictionary too). Myopic Bookworm 16:05, 4 July 2007 (UTC)
As an information point here, I was using mainframe systems from 1972 onwards and the only ever spelling I have seen was "nibble". This applied to manuals from DEC, IBM, CDC, Olivetti, Burroughs, et al. --AlisonW 16:14, 4 July 2007 (UTC)
As a reader of many of the homebrew and PC oriented magazines in the late seventies and early eighties, I was far more familiar with the nybble spelling. I wonder if nibble predominated in large systems with pre-existing spell checkers. I get the feeling that the historical precedent is nibble when used as a downer, nybble when used as an upper. When I first encountered a VAX system, I was shocked at the massive shelf of giant binders filled with lacrimosal prose. In the PC world, my first C compiler arrived as a diskette in a zip-lock baggy with ten pages of documentation stapled together. It would hardly surprise me that there was also a gulf in word usage. I came here, though, to find out whether there was once upon a time a fleeting term for a two-bit aggregate. MaxEnt 22:21, 18 August 2007 (UTC)
I thinks to myself, surely someone flipped lick into lyck, and sure enough, I found a bolus: MaxEnt 22:29, 18 August 2007 (UTC)
I too came here to check for a vaguely-recalled definition for a 2 bit value and I still cannot find it. I've seen "crumb" offered but that doesn't ring a bell. The stunning thing for me has been the revelation that "nybble" is not the original spelling. In 30 years of computing I have never encountered "nibble" - only "nybble". Maybe I led even more of a sheltered life than I have been given to believe. Or the Alzheimers is kicking in :). AncientBrit 19:08, 30 November 2007 (UTC)
  • I won’t get drawn into an unresolvable argument over what is “historical” or virtuous or meritorious or worthy of a gold smiley face on your report card. This recent edit, which falsely stated that “nybble” is the more common spelling, is unsupportable. All supposed facts in Wikipedia must be true. If you do a Google search as one editor recently did (“bit byte nybble”) you get 413,000 hits. If you search on “bit byte nibble”, you get 394,000 hits. If you don’t bother to look at your search results and study them a bit, one could come away with an erroneous conclusion; as that editor did. Simply look at the hits. The search with nybble includes all the Web pages that include the word “nybble” AND all the Web pages that include the words “bit” and “byte” but also happen to include the word nibble”! Here's what you get with a simple search:
“nibble byte” = 591,000 hits
“nybble byte” = 54,900 hits
Clearly, “nibble” is a more common spelling than “nybble”. Reverted. Greg L (my talk) 03:47, 27 September 2007 (UTC)
    • If you're looking at using Google searches as a kind of heat map of truth, then how about this one:
"nibble nybble" = 122,000 hits
(See, I can do "original research", too! :) ) — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:15, 21 October 2013 (UTC)

Nybble? Cute, but in 30 years, today is the first I've seen it spelled this way.

Programming magazine?[edit]

I seem to recall a BASIC programming magazine named Nibble that listed lines of BASIC code that readers could copy into their machines and run games or programs. Each game or program was broken down over multiple months of publications, so it was imperative that if you wanted to finish programming your game, you'd better get the next month's copy. Does anybody else have any information on this? Framerotblues 20:51, 15 March 2007 (UTC)


Do we not know the name of the "person who coined the term for computer use"? 18:27, 21 March 2007 (UTC)


Please add something about which half of a byte is low and which is high.

I wish that were possible! As it is, which is which depends on whether the system is "BigEndian" or "LittleEndian" --AlisonW 16:14, 4 July 2007 (UTC)


I've never heard of the term "hexit" before. A quick glance through the "hexadecimal" page doesn't mention the term. A Google search for "hexit" returns 31900 results, and none of the results on the first page led to any use of the term "hexit" to mean "hexadecimal digit". Is "hexit" a term in common use? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Rainault (talkcontribs) 20:20, 8 September 2008 (UTC)


A small portion!!!!!!!


A tidbit about tidbits.

I was part of the team that developed the Bally Astrocade game system in the 1976-1977 time frame. It used 2 bit per pixel graphics. We always referred to a 2 bit wide bit string as a "tidbit". Jeff Fredericksen, our lead hardware engineer, came up with that name. Nibble was already in common use then, and we always spelled it without the "Y".

Jamiefaye (talk) 23:30, 2 October 2009 (UTC)

Once again Wikipedia gets it wrong[edit]

It's nybble not nibble anyone who actually knows anything about computing could tell you that. It never seems to bother any wikipaedo that they're just doing the wrong thing again and again. Sad. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:25, 18 March 2012 (UTC)

Thanks for your opinion, but "nibble" is correct. Of course it's not really an established word, so variations in spelling are to be expected. Johnuniq (talk) 01:00, 19 March 2012 (UTC)

First use of nibble with this meaning[edit]

I was probably the first to use nibble as the unit of storage required to hold a BCD decimal digit. This was in 1957 or 1958 while talking with my mother, an early programmer at Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory (now Los Alamos National Laboratory). It was in the living room of our house when the term popped in my head. "Nibble?" she said. "Yes," I replied "a nibble is half a byte isn't it?" She appreciated the play on words and almost certainly passed it along to her T-4 colleagues. There were precious few programmers in those days and I'm sure the term was quickly passed around.

I knew about the term byte because I had been informed about the forthcoming STRETCH computer which had a (rather complex) notion of byte but that ordinarily an 8 bit unit was meant. Note that the design of STRETCH was carried out in close consultation to the prospective user community at Los Alamos.

David B. Benson (talk) 22:57, 27 July 2014 (UTC)

IBM Stretch (7030) -- Aggressive Uniprocessor Parallelism