What was the motivation behind making a tryte equal to three trits? Seems counter-intuitive that a byte contains more combinations than a tryte—at least from a semantical perspective.

  • Not sure this is an IOTA question. IOTA didn't "invent" trytes. It might be more appropriate on the Computer Science or even English Stack Exchange.
    – Helmar
    Mar 1, 2018 at 14:17
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    I think that the tryte term was always used as a undefined collection of trits and only in IOTA context a tryte is a collection of 3 trits.
    – blockmined
    Mar 1, 2018 at 16:12
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    @Helmar Yes, but didn't IOTA define a tryte as three trits for this project? I don't see this definition mentioned anywhere else.
    – shoe
    Mar 1, 2018 at 19:20
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    Others use e.g. 6 trits (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ternary_numeral_system#Tryte), but also in the past, computers had 6 or 9 bits in a byte (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Byte). So I think this is a valid question for this StackExchange why IOTA chose 3 (but probably there is no good answer there, let's see :D)
    – mihi
    Mar 1, 2018 at 20:37
  • I’m voting to close this question because it is about the legacy-network and it is a good idea to keep only Shimmer/ShimmerEVM and latest IOTA Chrysalis questions Apr 24, 2023 at 14:04

2 Answers 2


Trits are not very readable by humans, so English letters and a separator ('9') were used for combinations of 3 trits. Calling them "characters" would require to add "used in IOTA addresses" sometimes which is not convenient. Long story short, I decided to call them "trytes", that term wasn't used anywhere else anyway.

Regarding a byte being able to store more data, conventional computers operate with computer words, not bytes. Bytes don't longer matter much.

  • Right, I meant that "tryte" hadn't been used in IOTA and Jinn (a trinary processor). May 13, 2018 at 19:46

I didn't find any IOTA specific source to explain the choice to use trytes made of three trits.

Probably 27 being the number of all possible different combinations of 3 trits, (3^3), then 3 trits is the best choice if you want to use the letters in English alphabet (26), plus an additional character (9), to represent numbers in this notation.

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