n. 1. obs. The bits produced by the CONTROL and META shift keys on a SAIL keyboard, resulting in a 9-bit keyboard character set. The MIT AI TV (Knight) keyboards extended this with TOP and separate left and right CONTROL and META keys, resulting in a 12-bit character set; later, LISP Machines added such keys as SUPER, HYPER, and GREEK (see space-cadet keyboard).
2. By extension, bits associated with 'extra' shift keys on any keyboard, e.g., the ALT on an IBM PC or command and option keys on a Macintosh.
It is rumored that 'bucky bits' were named for Buckminster Fuller during a period when he was consulting at Stanford. Actually, 'Bucky' was Niklaus Wirth's nickname when *he* was at Stanford; he first suggested the idea of an EDIT key to set the 8th bit of an otherwise 7-bit ASCII character. This was used in a number of editors written at Stanford or in its environs (TV-EDIT and NLS being the best-known). The term spread to MIT and CMU early and is now in general use.