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How to Convert Binary Word MSB & LSB to Decimal

Updated April 17, 2017

Computers speak binary. High-level programming languages are all human representations of binary language. Instruction and data values occupy a minimum of 16 bits. The composition of the 16-bit word is a most significant byte (MSB) and a least significant byte (LSB). Each byte represents 8-bits of information. When coupled in the order MSBLSB it represents a piece of data or contains a command to the processor. Programming in binary is tedious but you can make the task less troublesome by converting the binary to decimal values. Each binary word entered into the computer's memory occurs in the order LSB followed by the MSB.

Write down the 16-bit binary word. Count eight bits from the right side end and split the word apart. Each piece of binary code is now 8-bits long. The left side byte is the MSB and the right side byte is the LSB.

Convert the LSB into a decimal number by adding the value of each bit in the byte. Each location in the byte carries a decimal value. Moving from the right most bit towards the left the progression of values is 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64 and 128. Add the value of each bit that is a one together to yield the decimal value of the byte. For example, calculate the decimal value of the following byte, 10110010. Assign the decimal values to each of the bits. Beginning on the right, sum the decimal values for the one bits, 2 + 16 + 32 + 128 = 178.

Convert the MSB in the same manner as the LSB. The decimal values are the same for the bits of the MSB.

Things You'll Need

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About the Author

Sean Lancaster has been a freelance writer since 2007. He has written for Writers Research Group, Alexis Writing and the Lebanon Chamber of Commerce. Lancaster holds a Doctor of Philosophy in chemistry from the University of Washington.