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Wikipedia says it was coined in 1957 by Werner Buchholz during the early design phase for the IBM Stretch computer, but doesn't provide a reference.

Earliest patent on Google patent search was filed in 1959:

  • Patent number: 3,079,597
  • Filing date: Jan 2, 1959
  • "From the foregoing discussion, it will be seen that the word "byte" is herein used to define bit-groups made up of selected numbers of bits."

Omegatron 00:15, 23 March 2007 (UTC)