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A byte was originally defined as the smallest unit of data which a given computer could handle. Modern computers and data network protocols typically only support bytes which are 8 bits wide. Older machines, with word sizes which were not a multiple of 8 bits, often supported byte sizes other than 8 - e.g. 6-bit bytes, on 36-bit machines. The standard abbreviation for 'byte' (e.g. in giving main memory sizes) is 'B'.

See also