big-endian - Computer Definition
Referring to the orientation of a computer system, application, or network design with respect to the placement of most significant bit, digit, or byte in a coding scheme or with respect to storage in memory or order of transmission. Big-endian places the most significant bit, digit, or byte in the first, or leftmost, position, which is transmitted first. Little-endian places the most significant bit, digit, or byte in the last, or rightmost, position, which is transmitted last. Bi-endian systems can work either way. Telephone numbers, for example, are big-endian, beginning with a country code, followed by an area code, a central office prefix, and a line number. Motorola processors employ the big-endian approach, while Intel processors take the little-endian approach. The terms derive from Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels, in which the Big-Endians were a faction of people on the islands of Lilliput and Blefuscu who defied the emperor's decree that soft-boiled eggs should be broken at the small end before being consumed. See also bi-endian, bit, byte, digit, endianess, and little-endian.