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meta bit

meta bit: n. The top bit of an 8-bit character, which is on in
   character values 128--255.  Also called high bit, alt bit,
   or hobbit.  Some terminals and consoles (see space-cadet
   keyboard) have a META shift key.  Others (including,
   *mirabile dictu*, keyboards on IBM PC-class machines) have an
   ALT key.  See also bucky bits.

Historical note: although in modern usage shaped by a universe of 8-bit bytes the meta bit is invariably hex 80 (octal 0200), things were different on earlier machines with 36-bit words and 9-bit bytes. The MIT and Stanford keyboards (see space-cadet keyboard) generated hex 100 (octal 400) from their meta keys.