byte : Java Glossary

an 8-bit signed quantity. Most bugs involving byte are caused by forgetting that bytes sign extend as soon as you do any calculation with them. Bytes are considered to have values -128 to 127 not 0 to 255. This was a minor error in the design of Java. Almost never are signed bytes useful. You can kludge unsigned bytes with & 0xff. You can agglutinate bytes much the way you can aggluninate chars with StringBuilder by using a ByteArrayStream.

When you add two bytes together you get an int. Why? To simplify the JVM (Java Virtual Machine), and reduce the number of bits needed for an op code, the JVM does not support 8-bit and 16-bit signed and unsigned operations. So bytes, chars, short are promoted to int before doing arithmetic on them.

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