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* Re: [TUHS] v7 K&R C
@ 2020-05-18 13:58 Doug McIlroy
  2020-05-19  3:24 ` [TUHS] IBM 7030 byte size (was: v7 K&R C) Greg 'groggy' Lehey
  0 siblings, 1 reply; 2+ messages in thread
From: Doug McIlroy @ 2020-05-18 13:58 UTC (permalink / raw)
  To: tuhs

>  [A]lthough these days "byte" is synonymous with "8 bits", historically it
>  meant "the number of bits needed to store a single character".

It depends upon what you mean by "historically". Originally "byte"
was coined to refer to 8 bit addressable units on the IBM 7030 "Stretch"
computer. The term was perpetuated for the 360 family of computers. Only
later did people begin to attribute the meaning to non-addressable
6- or 9-bit units on 36- and 18-bit machines.  

Viewed over history, the latter usage was transient and colloquial.

Doug

^ permalink raw reply	[flat|nested] 2+ messages in thread

* [TUHS] IBM 7030 byte size (was: v7 K&R C)
  2020-05-18 13:58 [TUHS] v7 K&R C Doug McIlroy
@ 2020-05-19  3:24 ` Greg 'groggy' Lehey
  0 siblings, 0 replies; 2+ messages in thread
From: Greg 'groggy' Lehey @ 2020-05-19  3:24 UTC (permalink / raw)
  To: Doug McIlroy; +Cc: tuhs


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On Monday, 18 May 2020 at  9:58:26 -0400, Doug McIlroy wrote:
>>  [A]lthough these days "byte" is synonymous with "8 bits", historically it
>>  meant "the number of bits needed to store a single character".
>
> It depends upon what you mean by "historically". Originally "byte"
> was coined to refer to 8 bit addressable units on the IBM 7030
> "Stretch" computer.

It seems that even then it was of variable size.  From G.R. Trimble,
"STRETCH," Computer Usage Communique, 1963,
(http://archive.computerhistory.org/resources/text/Computer_Usage_Company/cuc.communique_vol2no3.1963.102651922.pdf):

  the words can be composed of "bytes" with from one to eight bits in
  a byte.

There's more at https://people.cs.clemson.edu/~mark/stretch.html.

> The term was perpetuated for the 360 family of computers. Only
> later did people begin to attribute the meaning to non-addressable
> 6- or 9-bit units on 36- and 18-bit machines.
>
> Viewed over history, the latter usage was transient and colloquial

Transient maybe, but UNIVAC used the term in its documentation of the
1100 series.  The 1106/1108/1110 could access (but not directly
address) 6, 9 and 12 bit "bytes".

Greg
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2020-05-18 13:58 [TUHS] v7 K&R C Doug McIlroy
2020-05-19  3:24 ` [TUHS] IBM 7030 byte size (was: v7 K&R C) Greg 'groggy' Lehey

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