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# I just took a challenge quiz where the answer to the question "How many bits in 25 cents?" was 2. As there was never a 12 1/2 cent coin how did this sum come about as a term?

Question #83191. Asked by satguru. (Jul 11 07 6:34 AM)

Lympathy

"The Spanish milled dollars were easily cut apart into equal "bits" of 8 pieces. One "bit" would be equal to 1/8 of a dollar, and 2 bits would equal 2/8 (or 1/4 - a quarter of a dollar). So, it is easy to see why the coins were called "pieces of eight", and "2 bits" was commonly used to refer to 25 cents."

 Jul 11 07, 7:33 AM
lanfranco

Satguru, have you ever heard the little musical couplet, "Shave and a haircut, two bits"? Funny, I rarely hear it these days -- possibly because nothing costs only 25 cents any longer. There isn't even a cent sign on my keyboard, though that supposedly has something to do with ASCII codes.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shave_and_a_Haircut

 Jul 11 07, 8:44 AM
Baloo55th

The name pieces of eight comes from well before the American dollar, and it refers to the Spanish coin of the value 8 reales first introduced in 1497. The coin was roughly equivalent to the Austrian thaler, whence the name dollar. It carried a figure 8, which would be easily understood by people who couldn't read the Latin inscription on the coin. 'Piece' refers to the coin as a whole - 'a silver piece', 'a gold piece' being ways of referring to a coin. 1/2, 1, 2, and 4 reales coins were minted, but for international trade (especially in the Orient) the 8 was the coin for bulk production and transport from Mexico to Spain and thence to the Philippines and the China trade. Assuming the pirates hadn't got them first.... Sources: Krause and Mischler World Coins, and others including Wikipedia.

 Jul 11 07, 3:01 PM

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