Please insert this entry in the approprate section of your dictionary. It won't be there already because I invented this word on Apr 2, 1997.

munged . a . byte \müngd' a bite\ n [ slang munged (broken) + byte (unit of measure) ] 1 : A derisive term substituted for megabyte in cases where megabyte is used to represent 1,000,000 bytes (219.9) instead of the customary 1,048,576 bytes (220). 2 : Smaller than advertised.
mung . a . byte \müng' a bite\ n [ variation on mungabyte ]
mugged' . a . byte \mügged' a bite\ n [ slang mugged (robbed) + byte (unit of measure): variation on mungabyte suggested by Warren Pencak ]

Why do we need this new word? Examine the the installation instructions of just about any recently manufactured hard drive for some verbage along the lines of "We define a megabyte as 1,000,000 bytes". It will be followed with a resonable sounding but bogus explanation of why your PC's CMOS settings will show a smaller capacity of the disk drive. This is because the PC counts 1,048,576 bytes as a megabyte.

A pretty good analogy of this is that your computer system (and the rest of the industry) defines a linear foot as 12 inches, but the hard disk makers say it is 10 inches!

The shortchanging of consumers increases with disk capacity: If you purchase what you think is a 2.5 gigabyte disk drive, the manufacture will probably mark it as being 2500 megabytes. It should really read 2500 mungedabytes because it is short 121,634,816 bytes, or the equivalent of $18.56 if you paid $400.00 for the drive. (The price $400 is arbitrary: slightly more than EIDE; slightly less than SCSI.)

The funny thing is that floppy disks, memory chips, and so on all have the honest, actual capacity on them. Only the hard drive makers pull this sleazy marketing stunt.

Newsflash 2007!

It only took 10 years for justice to prevail. Computerworld (1-Nov-2007) reports that Segate lost a suit for the misleading use of decimal megabites instead of binary megabytes. The difference made the disk drives appear 7% larger then they actually were. Segate will have to refund 5% of the net price of drives under the settlement.

Copyright © 1997,2007 Kevin J. Walsh
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