What Is the Smallest Unit of Data a Computer Can Process?

smallest-unit-data-computer-can-process Credit: Steven Puetzer/Photolibrary/Getty Images

A bit is the smallest unit of data a computer can process. A bit, short for binary digit, has a value of zero or one.

Computers work by using the binary system, where the only numbers counted are zero and one. When a group of eight bits are put together, it is called one byte of information. A byte can make 256 individual values from zero to 255 by using all the possible combinations of zeros and ones. Standard Unicode assigns a different character to each value. Characters include upper and lower case letters, numbers, symbols, punctuation marks and instructions such as space.