**Who coined the term, "bit" as a concatenation of "binary digit" in Communication Engineering?**

On April 30, 2016 Claude Shannon, Father of Information Theory would have turned 100. Google celebrated the occasion with a doodle with two zeros and one 1 to indicate it was 100 years ago Shannon was born in Michigan.

For many years, The Telegraph, London newspaper was carrying a story that C. Shannon coined the term, "bit" in his legendary tech paper (1948). It turns out it was another mathematician and a colleague of Claude Shannon who coined the term in 1946, two years before Shannon used it in his famous paper.

Mrs. Betty Shannon with her husband's statue at Gaylord, MI.

I wrote this mail to Editor, The Telegraph, London mentioning about coinage of "bit" by Dr. John Tukey. We all know the famous FFT algorithm developed by him. Both were great engineers and mathematicians who changed the world for good.

‘A Mathematical Theory of Communication’ 1948-ல் தந்த பொறியியல் அறிஞரின் நூறாவது பிறந்த நாள்!

# Claude Shannon: The Juggling Unicyclist Who Pedaled Us Into the Digital Age

1992 கட்டுரை:

திரு. ஜெயபாரதன் இந்த பொறியாளரைப் பற்றி எழுதணும்.

நா. கணேசன்

**My mail to The Telegraph editor,**

Dear Sir/Madam,

Your newspaper article on Claude Shannon contains an error. It credits Claude Shannon to be the engineer who coined the term, "bit" used often in Engineering. Actualy, it was another mathematician, John Tukey, who coined the term, "bit" as a contraction from "binary digit" in 1946. This was 2 years before, C. Shannon wrote his famous paper.

Claude Shannon: The juggling father of the information age who coined the term 'bit':

Today's article in The Telegraph refers to an old piece by them published back in 2001 when Claude Shannon died:

This info needs to be corrected as to who coined the common word, "bit". John Tukey not only coined the word, "bit", but also possibly the word, "software" also.

"While working with John von Neumann on early computer designs, Tukey introduced the word "bit" as a contraction of "binary digit".

^{[8]}The term "bit" was first used in an article by Claude Shannon in 1948."
"The word

*bit*was invented in the latter half of the 1940s by John W. Tukey (1915-2000), an eminent statistician, while working at Bell Labs (the research arm of AT&T, the former U.S. telecommunications monopoly). He coined it as a contraction of the term*binary digit*and as a handier alternative to*bigit*or*binit*. Tukey also coined the word*software*.
The term

*bit*was first used in an influential publication by Claude E. Shannon (1916-2001), also while at Bell Labs, in his seminal 1948 paper*A Mathematical Theory of Communication*. Shannon, widely regarded as the*father*of information theory, developed a theory that for the first time treated communication as a rigorously stated mathematical problem and provided communications engineers with a technique for determining the capacities of communications channels in terms of of bits."**The word, "bit" coinage is said to be from John Tukey mentioned by Claude Shannon himself in his seminal paper of 1948.**

"Many people wonder where these two computer terms come from. Of the two,

*bit*is older, dating to 1948. It first appears in*A Mathematical Theory of Communication*by C.E. Shannon in*Bell Systems Technical Journal*in July and October of that year. (This paper is one of the seminal works of modern information theory. The fact that it is the first known use of*bit*is simply a footnote to its scientific importance.) In the paper, Shannon credits a J.W. Tukey with the coinage:The choice of a logarithmic base corresponds to the choice of a unit for measuring information. If the base 2 is used the resulting units may be called binary digits, or more briefly bits, a word suggested by J. W. Tukey.

As Shannon indicates,

*bit*is an abbreviated form of*binary digit*, chosen probably because it is also a play on the meaning of the then existing word*bit*signifying a small part."
Also see:

"bit: Short for binary digit, the smallest unit of information on a machine. John Tukey, a leading statistician and adviser to five presidents first used the term in 1946."

Thanks!

N. Ganesan

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