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From: raster@highfiber.com (Charles Dye)
Subject: (whorl) Pieces of Eight!
Date: Sun, 10 May 1998 21:43:19 

"Gordon Brain" <gobrain@netcomuk.co.uk> can do cant, can't he....

>(doesn't make a) bad bit's difference =96 'Makes no difference'. From bit=
>in small coin worth 12.5 cents (i.e. one eighth of a dollar - related to
>'piece of eight' =3D old Spanish dollar ?), survives in phrase 'two bit =85=
>meaning cheap, not worth much. Bad bit =3D counterfeit small coin, so worth
>even less.=20

Yes.  But note that these "bits" are pieces of computer cards!  Computer
geeks have been getting milage out of this pun for decades:  a bit is an
eighth of a byte, so a byte must be worth a dollar.  Eric S. Raymond, for
instance, lists "quarter" in "The New Hacker's Dictionary" (recommended!)
as two bits, and specifically mentions the Spanish silver dollar

Sad irony:  The computer revolution has just wiped out the last surviving
use of the monetary "bit" in the U.S.A.  Stocks are now being traded in
sixteenths of dollars instead of eighths, preparatory to purely decimal

>"Tis no Disparagement to understand the Canting Terms: It may chance to
>save your Throat from being cut, or, (at least) your Pocket from being
>Elisha Coles (1676)



*More Wolfe info & archive of this list at http://www.moonmilk.com/whorl/

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