Some computer screens are grayscale, rather than plainblack-and white (monochrome). On a black-and-white screen, there is only one bit of information being sent to each pixel (dot), so the pixels on the screen are either on (white) or off (black). On a greyscale monitor, anywhere from 2 to 16 bits of information are sent to each pixel, so it is possible to display gray tones in the pixels, rather than just black or white.
The gray tones are the result of some of the bits being on and some being off. If the monitor uses 4 bits, there are 16 possible combinations of on and off, so there are 16 possible shades of gray.
A grayscale is also one variety of TIFF (tagged image file format). When you scan an image as a grayscale, each dot on the screen can register a different gray value. A grayscale tries to approximate the continuous gray tone of photographs.