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Bunches of bits and bytes

Everyone knows megabytes and gigabytes.  Most know terabytes.  (Old 1980s owners of Commodore 64s also know kilobytes.) But the digital world is expanding rapidly, creating massive amounts of data that need to be stored somewhere.  How do we talk about that kind of volume?

Consider these data measurements:







Can you match those with the descriptions below?

  1. 1015 bytes – the CERN large hadron collider generates one of these in a second
  2. 1018 bytes – one of these is created on/by the internet each day
  3. 1021 bytes – the World Wide Web as of 2013 reportedly reached four of these
  4. 1024 bytes – 250 trillion DVDs, or what data scientists use to describe the amount of social metadata flowing around the internet today
  5. 1027 bytes – the measurement we’ll have to use to describe the amount of sensor data generated from the “Internet of Things”
  6. 1030 bytes – the largest measurement of storage to date

Scroll down for the answers.


We get most of these facts and figures from the 2014 Winter ICT Educator Conference in San Francisco hosted by MPICT (the Mid-Pacific Information and Communication Technologies Center) and a keynote delivered by HP fellow Charlie Bess.  Charlie is one of the newest members of the National Convergence Technology Center’s (CTC) Business and Industry Leadership Team (BILT) that helps steer IT/convergence curriculum.  His MPICT talk looked at the “megatrends” and imagined what the world might be like in 2020.


  1. 1015, Petabyte
  2. 1018, Exabyte
  3. 1021, Zetaabyte
  4. 1024, Yottabyte
  5. 1027, Brontobyte
  6. 1030, Geopbyte


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