Unicode, Inc.

1965 Charleston Road, Mountain View, CA 94043, USA





CONTACT:    Tim Helms/Kelli Ramirez

                   The Benjamin Group Inc.





For Immediate Release








MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., Feb. 19, 1991 – A consortium of major computer companies have formally affiliated as Unicode Inc. to maintain and promote Unicode, a newly-developed multilingual text and character encoding standard. Board members of Unicode Inc. include vice presidents or directors of Apple, GO, IBM, Metaphor, Microsoft, NeXT, Novell, The Research Libraries Group and Sun Microsystems.

          Unicode simplifies the development of international information systems through a single uniform character standard. Unicode encompasses all major languages and offers a strong foundation for international systems. This standard will make multilingual software easier to write, information systems easier to manage and international information exchange more practical.

          An informal Unicode working group, the predecessor of the incorporated consortium, has completed a review draft of the Unicode standard containing more than 27,000 characters. This draft is currently being reviewed by hundreds of individuals, companies and institutions.

          The consortium welcomes additional corporations interested in contributing to Unicode’s design, implementation and maintenance to join the consortium and place representatives on the Unicode Technical Committee.


Global Communications Influence Unicode Developers

          “The Unicode standard evolved from the industry’s need for a 16-bit version of ASCII,” said Joe Becker, a principal scientist at Xerox and a Unicode Inc. technical vice president. “Information professionals gathered together to take the best from existing standards and apply their multilingual software experience to designing a simple, complete character encoding.”

          The Unicode project was initiated in early 1989 by an informal working group of linguists, engineers, managers and information professionals from companies and institutions requiring international information systems. The group consulted with language experts and members of national and international organizations, and determined the most effective way to achieve an international standard with the same level of simplicity and efficiency as ASCII was to establish Unicode as an inter-company, international character standard. The consortium will also propose that Unicode be adopted by national standards organizations.

          Major contributors to Unicode’s development include Apple, Xerox, Metaphor, GO, Microsoft, Sun Microsystems, IBM, The Research Libraries Group and NeXT. Aldus, Lotus and Novell have recently taken active roles in the development of Unicode.

Character Structure

          Unicode character codes are fixed-width, unambiguous and sufficiently numerous to include all characters likely to be used in electronic information processing. They are fixed-width to minimize complexity; 16-bits wide because this provides a sufficient number of codes (65,536) to represent electronic text characters anticipated for the foreseeable future; and unambiguous because each character has one code, regardless of the language using it or the font rendering it.

          The codes are grouped by linguistic and functional categories. Within categories, and whenever possible, principles used in earlier international standards are followed.

Current Activity

          After the final draft review, completion of Unicode version 1.0 is planned for spring 1991. The consortium is actively adding corporations to its membership and representatives to the Technical Committee.

          Besides developing the standard, the group has worked to insure mutual convertibility between Unicode and existing national, international and inter-company encoding standards. The group has compiled a database of cross-conversion tables between Unicode and many other existing character encoding standards which will be available through Unicode Inc.

Board of Directors

          Elected to the Unicode Inc. board of directors and serving as its key advisers are some of the industry’s leading visionaries:

  Larry Tesler, Vice President Advanced Products,   Apple Computer, Inc.
  Robert Carr, Vice President Software Development, GO Corp.

  Richard J. Holleman, Director of Telecommunications, IBM Corp.

  Charles Irby, Vice President of Development, Metaphor Computer Systems

  Paul Maritz, Vice President Advanced Operating Systems, Microsoft Corporation

  Bud Tribble, Vice President Software Engineering, NeXT Computer Inc.

  Jay Israel, Vice President Advanced Technology, Novell, Inc.

  David Richards, Director of Development, The Research Libraries Group.

  John Gage, Vice President Desktop Development, Sun Microsystems Inc.


Unicode Information

          For more information regarding the Unicode standard character encoding or Unicode Inc., contact Tim Helms or Kelli Ramirez at The Benjamin Group Inc., phone 408/988-8933, fax 408/988-0831.