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Binary characters digits, "ones" and "zeros", are normally assembled into small standard-length groups just large enough to communicate a useful number. Such groups, normally consisting of eight bits, are known as bytes. One eight-bit byte can be used to represent an number in the range 0 - 255. The gaps in the binary numbers in the table below have been inserted purely to enhance readability.

BINARY NUMBERS AS 8-BIT BYTES
Decimal 8-bit Binary Decimal 8-bit Binary
1 0000  0001 128 1000  0000
2 0000  0010 140 1000  1100
3 0000 0011 160 1010  0000
4 0000 0100 180 1011  0100
50 0011  0010 200 1100  1000
60 0011  1100 220 1101  1100
70 0100  0110 240 1111  0000
80 0101  0000 253 1111  1101
90 0101  1010 254 1111  1110
100 0110  0100 255 1111  1111

In colour systems, such as the RGB colour model, primary colours are mixed in precisely-controlled proportions to achieve the large number of colours required to create an image. In the RGB system, the red, blue and green components are each allocated one eight-bit byte. This determines the mixture of primary colours required for each of the possible 16.7 million possible colour combinations. Each output of each sensor element, or pixel, therefore delivers three eight-bit bytes of information. This system, known as 24-bit colour, is illustrated in the example below which shows the data for a single orange pixel.

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