Re: Abbr. for kilobyte?

Subject: Re: Abbr. for kilobyte?
From: Steve Fouts <sfouts -at- ELLISON -dot- SC -dot- TI -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 1 Jul 1994 13:19:54 CDT

Keith Ivey asks:

|} Does anyone know of any definitive rulings on whether "kilobyte" should
|} be abbreviated as "KB", "Kb", "kB", or "kb"? I think I have seen all
|} four. Some people say that "B" should be used for "byte" and "b" for
|} "bit". The SI system, of course, uses "k" for 1,000, so there is an
|} argument that "K" should be used for 1,024--but this leaves open the
|} question of how to distinguish between "M" meaning 1,000,000 and "M"
|} meaning 1,048,576.

First, a personal observation. T.I. documents used to use KB for kilobytes,
and Kb for kilobits, but found that most of the customers did not immediately
notice the difference. We now use KB as an abreviation for kilobytes, but
always spell out K bits. Less confusion.

Now for the attributions.

JEDEC Standard No. 100, Terms, Definitions, and Letter Symbols for
Microcomputers and Memory Integrated Circuits.

K, upper case, a multiplier equal to 1024.....

Note that JEDEC 100 does not similarly address M or G.

and from the Jargon File:

JARGON FILE, VERSION 2.9.12, 10 MAY 1993

There are, of course, some standard unit prefixes for powers of
10. In the following table, the `prefix' column is the
international standard suffix for the appropriate power of ten; the
`binary' column lists jargon abbreviations and words for the
corresponding power of 2. The B-suffixed forms are commonly used
for byte quantities; the words `meg' and `gig' are nouns that may
(but do not always) pluralize with `s'.

prefix decimal binary pronunciation
kilo- k K, KB, /kay/
mega- M M, MB, meg /meg/
giga- G G, GB, gig /gig/,/jig/

Note that the formal SI metric prefix for 1000 is `k'; some use
this strictly, reserving `K' for multiplication by 1024 (KB is

K, M, and G used alone refer to quantities of bytes; thus, 64G is
64 gigabytes and `a K' is a kilobyte (compare mainstream use of
`a G' as short for `a grand', that is, $1000). Whether one
pronounces `gig' with hard or soft `g' depends on what one thinks
the proper pronunciation of `giga-' is.

I believe that these usages comply with the 19th Conference Generale des
Poids et Mesures as well, but I do not have a specific reference. Anyone?
_______________ _____
/ ___ __/__\ \ / / _\ Steve Fouts
/___ \| | ___\ | / __\ sfouts -at- ellison -dot- sc -dot- ti -dot- com
/ / \ | \ / \
/_______/__|_______\_/________\ "She understood, as he did, that all writing
was infernally boring and futile, but that it had to be done out of respect
for tradition" --Stanislaw Lem

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