Posted by ESC on January 31, 2000

In Reply to: Two bits posted by Joe Pessell on January 31, 2000

: : I would like to know where " Two bits four bits six bits a
dollar" came from?

: : Thanks so much.

: Two bits is equal to 25 cents; they are counting in four equal parts of a dollar ending at a dollar, rather than ending on "eight bits".

"Listening to America" by Stuart Berg Flexner (Simon and Schuster, New York, 1982) has some detailed about "bits": ".Being worth one-eighth of a Spanish peso or Spanish dollar, the original Spanish 'real' or 'bit' was worth 12 ½ cents. Not only was this bit itself a coin, but the peso could be cut into halves, quarters or pie-shaped wedges of eights, so a bit was both a coin and a cut-off section of a peso worth the same amount. This 'bit,' being 12 ½ cents, gave us our term 'two bits' (1730, originally as two separate bits or the sum of 25 cents, then as our own 25-cent coin in 1792)."