The unit was established by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) in 1998 and has been accepted for use by all major standards organizations. It was designed to replace the kilobyte, where used in some computer science contexts to mean 1024 bytes, which conflicts with the SI definition of the prefix kilo.
|Orders of magnitude of data|
- 1 kibibyte = 210 bytes = 1024 bytes.
The prefix kibi is derived as a portmanteau of 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), the IEC prefix uses an uppercase letter.
The kibibyte is closely related to the kilobyte. The latter is often used in some contexts as a synonym for the kibibyte, but formally refers to 103 bytes = 1000 bytes, as the prefix is defined in the International System of Units.
The binary interpretation of the metric prefixes causes relatively small differences with the smallest prefixes in the series, i.e. for kilo and mega, but grows to substantial differences beyond (see binary prefix: deviation between powers of 1024 and powers of 1000).
In Introduction to MMIX, Donald Knuth proposed that this unit be called a large kilobyte (abbreviated KKB). Other early proposals included using the Greek lowercase letter κ (kappa) for 1024 bytes (and using k exclusively for 1000), bK, KB, and others. See binary prefix: early suggestions.
Binary prefixes are increasingly used in scientific literature and open source software. In product advertising and other non-scientific publications, the kilobyte sometimes refers to a power of ten and sometimes a power of two. 
- International Electrotechnical Commission (2007). "Prefixes for binary multiples". Retrieved 2007-05-06.
- International Electrotechnical Commission (January 1999), IEC 60027-2 Amendment 2: Letter symbols to be used in electrical technology - Part 2: Telecommunications and electronics
- "What is a kilobyte?". Retrieved 2010-05-20.
- "Safier vs WDC complaint". Retrieved 2007-11-15.
- Rowlett, Brian (7 August 2005). "I've got a bigger gigabyte than you!". Independent Computer Products Users Group (ICPUG). Retrieved 2007-11-15.
- Barry Wittman; Aditya Mathur; Tim Korb (30 December 2012). Start Concurrent: An Introduction to Problem Solving in Java with a Focus on Concurrency, 2013 Edition. Purdue University Press. p. 5. ISBN 978-1-55753-672-3. Retrieved 1 May 2013.