From: Tony Harminc (
Date: Wed Jul 09 1997 - 12:45:00 EDT

On 9 Jul 97 at 1:50, Otto Stolz wrote:

> > Contrary to common opinion, there is nothing in any mainframe
> > hardware or software that restricts the byte values in a string.
> O yes, there is one thing: the Fortran runtime system (which belongs
> to the the mainframe software, doesn't it) has used the X'FF' byte
> as a string terminator; hence this byte value could not be used
> in a string.

I should, of course, have said "operating system software".
Certainly various application programs, compilers, and so on have
used things like the recently mentioned Zigamorph (X'FF') for text
processing purposes.

On this topic, probably someone is going to bring up the fact that
certain hardware instructions on the IBM 360/370/390 series generate
EBCDIC characters as part of the conversion of BCD ("packed decimal")
numbers. On the 360 series, there was actually a mode bit to
generate 8-bit ASCII ("USASCII 8") characters instead, but this was
dropped in the 370 and subsequent series. In any case, there is not
a strong connection between the BCD formats and EBCDIC.

Tony Harminc

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