why does echo -n "100" | wc -c output 3?

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I just happened to be playing around with a few linux commands and i found that echo -n "100" | wc -c outputs 3. i knew that 100 could be stored in a single byte as 1100100 so i could not understand why this happened. I guess that it is because of some teminal encoding, is it ? i also found out that if i touch test.txt and echo -n "100" | test.txt and then execute wc ./test.txt -ci get the same output here also my guess is to blame file encoding, am i right ?

When you echo -n 100, you are showing a string with 3 characters. When you want to show a character with ascii value 100, use

echo -n "d"
# Check
echo -n "d" | xdd -b

I found value "d" with man ascii. When you don't want to use the man page, use

printf "\\$(printf "%o" 100)"
# Check
printf "\\$(printf "%o" 100)" | xxd -b
# wc returns 1 here
printf "\\$(printf "%o" 100)" | wc -c

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100 is three characters long, hence wc giving you 3. If you left out the -n to echo it'd show 4, because echo would be printing out a newline too in that case.

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It's fine)

$ wc --help
...
  -c, --bytes            print the byte counts
  -m, --chars            print the character counts
...

$ man echo
...
-n     do not output the trailing newline
...

$ echo -n 'abc' | wc -c
3

$ echo -n 'абс' | wc -c # russian symbols
6

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Comments
  • The number 100 can be represented in binary encoding as a single byte, but that's not what echo is printing here. It prints a string consisting of the characters "1", "0", and "0". The fact that this character sequence could be interpreted as a number is not relevant here.
  • @GordonDavisson thanks for clarification. Thats the only thing that i wanted to know.