|Multiples of bytes|
|Orders of magnitude of data|
The unit was established by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) in 1998, has been accepted for use by all major standards organizations, and is part of the International System of Quantities. The kibibyte was designed to replace the kilobyte in those computer science contexts in which the term kilobyte is used to mean 1024 bytes. The interpretation of kilobyte to denote 1024 bytes, conflicting with the SI definition of the prefix kilo (1000), used to be common.
The unit prefix kibi specifies multiplication by 210 (1024). It was derived as a portmanteau from the words kilo and binary, indicating its origin in the closeness in value to the SI prefix kilo (1000). While the SI prefix is written with lowercase (k), all IEC binary prefixes start with an uppercase letter.
Therefore, the definition of the kibibyte is:
The next larger unit of information in the sequence with IEC binary prefixes is the mebibyte (MiB) (220 bytes):
Within the field of computer science, during the 1970s and 1980s, the term kilobyte generally meant 1024 bytes, but was sometimes used to mean 1000 bytes. When describing random access memory, kilobyte typically meant 1024 bytes, but when describing disk drive storage, kilobyte typically meant 1000 bytes. The errors associated with this ambiguity are relatively small with the lower prefixes in the series, i.e. for kilo and mega, but grows to substantial differences beyond.
In 1995, to resolve this ambiguity, the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry's Interdivisional Committee on Nomenclature and Symbols proposed new prefixes kibi, mebi, etc for powers of 1024. The kibi proposal was formally adopted by the International Electrotechnical Commission in December 1998, and published in January 1999.