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What is a practical purpose for the octal system?

Posted on 1998-10-02
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Last Modified: 2010-10-05
Just out of curiosity, in what application would using an octal system be advantageous?  How can grouping digits into 3 bits have any practical purpose?  One byte would be 0-377, the first digit would only have two bits.  The only place I can see octal as being useful is if you had a 9-bit or 12-bit computer.
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Question by:scrapdog
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mark2150 earned 0 total points
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Octal was used on DEC equipment in the early years just as hex is now. It fell out of favor due to the more compact representation of bits in using hex. Certain Unix boxes still use octal as their 'native' display mode. The front panel LED's and register switches, etc. were all grouped in triads instead of quads. Although computers no longer *have* front panels with LED's and register switches, the software that was developed then is still in use and expresses the binary data in octal. Other code was developed that was "compatible" and that is why octal is still occassionally found.

Yes, there have been 12 bit computers.

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