RE: Unicode Consortium & ISO Organization

From: Hart, Edwin F. (
Date: Tue May 11 1999 - 09:07:40 EDT

Se˝or Benet,

I have embedded some answers to your questions in your enclosed message.

Good luck to you.

Best regards,
Ed Hart

Edwin F. Hart
Applied Physics Laboratory
11100 Johns Hopkins Road
Laurel, MD 20723-6099
+1-240-228-6926 (from Washington, DC area)
+1-443-778-6926 (from Baltimore area)
+1-240-228-1093 (fax) <>

                -----Original Message-----
                From: Ricardo Bermell Benet []
                Sent: 11 May, 1999 04:53
                To: Unicode List
                Subject: Unicode Consortium & ISO Organization

                (This messages follows my previous one, "Unicode Standard &
                ISO-10646 Standard")

                It seems that (full) documentation for Unicode won't be
online and free
                (gratis) for ever and ever, ┐why?

Unicode has supplementary material (the up-to-date tables, technical
reports, etc.) online at its WWW site at An online or
machine-readable version would be very useful for searching for isolated
information but I would not want to read the entire standard on my
computer's video screen. Many people prefer to have the book as a reference
at their desk.

An officer from Unicode will need to address the rest of you question.
However, I suspect that the supplementary material will be online as long as
Unicode remains a viable organization. Unicode will likely remain viable as
long as scripts need to be coded and as long as people are implementing
Unicode and have issues. I would hope that in 5 to 10 years, Unicode would
be used universally and people would assume Unicode support in products.
However, I would be surprised if the Unicode Consortium will still exist in
25 years (and I plan to retire well before 25 years from now).

                Is Unicode Consortium an organization "for profit", an
altruist one,
                or what kind of mixture? (Please, note i'm not criticising,
                i don't know the answer)

According to Asmus Freytag, Unicode Vice President,

"Unicode, Inc. is a California non-profit corporation. The purpose if the
Consortium is to maintain, extend and promote The Unicode Standard.

The consortium has C liaison status with JTC1 SC2 and has applied for the
same status with SC22/WG20. Several national bodies maintain direct
liaisons with the Consortium."

                ISO is a public organization, so one can expect (hopefully)
                documentation will some day be online and free. And more,
one may
                expect ISO standards won't ever have restrictions of
                not restrictions of use (nor of documentation) for arbitrary

                users or organizations. ┐What warranties of that kind
                Unicode Consortium?

You have apparently not purchased any ISO standards recently. In the US,
the Unicode Standard Version 2.0 book sells for about 60 USD and includes a
CD-ROM with additional tables and information. The Unicode Consortium had
the goal of producing the book at cost (that is, with no profit). My
organization purchased ISO/IEC 10646-1: 1993 (before the amendments) for me
from the American National Standards Institute (which sells ISO standards in
the US) for *only* 350 USD. This is quite a large difference in price for
essentially the same standard. Given the large price difference, I strongly
suspect that many more people have bought the Unicode book than the ISO

People on the standards committees used to joke about the high cost of
printing ISO standards in Geneva. However, ISO uses the sales of its
standards to help subsidize its work. The administration of more than
10,000 international standards does not come for free. Although ISO will be
publishing some standards on the WWW, ISO is questioning how it will recover
the income it loses by making its standards available for free.

                Please, note i'm not trying to initiate a flame anything.
                I only look for information.

I see nothing offensive in your questions. If you do not ask questions, how
else are you going to learn?

                With the best regards,

                        Ricardo Bermell-Benet

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