BITNET (was: UTF-8 in Netscape)

From: John Cowan (
Date: Fri Jul 18 1997 - 13:07:54 EDT

Due to network problems, I can read mail at, but
can't post/reply/send from there. Please direct all private replies
to , not the HotMail address. Thanks.

David Goldsmith writes:

> BITNET [...] may be 8-bit clean in one sense, but it will gleefully
> mangle stuff nonetheless (read the original documents
> on Base64 encoding for the gory details). This is why UTF-7 has a
> "conservative" form which only uses the subset of ASCII which BITNET
> will leave alone.

Where are these "original documents", other than the RFCs?

I conjecture that the reason BITNET has so much trouble with
many characters is that the different machines which it comprises
have different coded character sets (EBCDIC code pages), but the
software does not transcode or even annotate messages, so that
whichever BITNET machine injects mail into the Internet decides
what the mapping to 7-bit ASCII is, not necessarily consistently
with the intention of the author of the message.

Can anyone confirm or refute this?

John Cowan
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