Ultimately, all data items that computers process are reduced to combinations of `0`

s and `1`

s. This occurs because it’s simple and economical to build electronic devices that can assume two stable states—one state represents `0`

and the other represents `1`

. It’s remarkable that the impressive functions performed by computers involve only the most fundamental manipulations of `0`

s and `1`

s.

The smallest data item that computers support is called a **bit** (short for “**binary digit**”—a digit that can assume one of *two* values). Each bit can assume either the value `0`

or the value `1`

. Computer circuitry performs various simple **bit manipulations**, such as examining the value of a bit, setting the value of a bit and reversing a bit (from

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