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Photoshop in Focus

The terms 8-bit color and 16-bit color refer to the actual amount of computer data recorded for each pixel's color. A bit is a single piece of digital information. Groups of eight bits of related data are called a byte. (A group of eight bits of unrelated data is better called an octet.) Think of bits as letters of the alphabet, bytes as words, and an entire computer file as a book.

Each bit can be a zero or a one, but can have no other value. Computers are—for now, anyway—binary machines. Each bit can be either value and must be one or the other. Consider the difference between a standard household light switch and a dimmer switch. The typical light switch is either on or off, but the dimmer switch can be set to any of a variety of “on” positions. With binary systems, there are no dimmer switches, just the old-fashioned on/off.


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