Re: FW: ASCII, Unicode

From: G. Adam Stanislav (
Date: Wed Jun 02 1999 - 21:15:25 EDT

>I'm Gerard Rinckes of the Meertens Institute in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
>We're doing research on the dutch language and culture. Therefore, we
>maintain large databases. To maintain this information for over 20 years
>we're converting the databases to SGML.
>My question is: how long will ASCII be the standard code? Can we expect
>major changes in the standard code? Or: is the information safe in ASCII?

No one can know how long a standard will last. However, ASCII is included
in various standards and is so widely used that any changes to it would
break a lot of software currently in existence.

What can happen is that while the codes of ASCII will remain in common use,
it is conceivable that more and more programs will store text as 16-bit or
32-bit data. Even if that happens, it would be quite elementary to write a
conversion program.

It is more likely that whatever hardware you are using to store your
database on will be a piece of museum history 20 years from now. I would be
more concerned about making sure it is easy to transfer your data to
different storage media than about ASCII being still around. I would also
make sure several up-to-date copies of the database always exist in
different parts of the world so it is not destroyed in some natural
disaster or war.


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