Do you speak ASCII?

ASCII chart from a 1972 printer manual

ASCII chart from a 1972 printer manual

On June 17, 1963, the American Standard Code for Information Interchange Code, or short better known as ASCII code was published as ASA X3.4-1963 by the American National Standards Institute. ASCII codes represent text in computers, communications equipment, and other devices that use text. Most modern character-encoding schemes are based on ASCII, though they support many additional characters. ASCII was the most common character encoding on the World Wide Web until December 2007, when it was surpassed by UTF-8, which is fully backward compatible to ASCII.

Before the introduction of the ASCII standard, computer manufacturers handeled the encoding issue in their own way. This resulted in the problem that different computers were not able to communicate with each other. Further, the manufacturers created their own methods to represent letters, numbers, and so on and around 60 different methods evolved at the time. I.B.M alone had around nine different character sets.

The early efforts to create the ASCII standard were accomplished by Bob Bemer who worked for I.B.M in the 1950s and 1960s. Today, he is referred to as the father of ASCII by many. The actual work on ASCII began in 1961. Bemer submitted a proposal for a common computer code to the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the committee called X3.4 representing most computer manufacturers back then and chaired by John Auwaerterwas created and began working on the problem.

In 1963, Bemer and Auwaerter came to an aggreement and ASCII was established. Today, ASCII codes represent text in computers, telecommunications equipment, and other devices. Most modern character-encoding schemes are based on ASCII, although they support many additional characters.

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