Re: ISO 8859-12

From: Markus Kuhn (
Date: Tue Jun 08 1999 - 08:13:14 EDT

John Wilcock wrote on 1999-06-08 11:32 UTC:
> > ISO 8859
> Just out of curiosity, what is part 12?

There is no ISO 8859-12.

The story behind this is of some interest:

A US delegate who grew up counting with the set of supernatural numbers
(you know, the natural numbers minus 13, commonly used in the US to
label hotel floors, rooms, airline seats, etc.) wanted to drop part 13
for political correctness reasons (to avoid law-suits at home about
unlucky character sets). However, this proposal was killed by an
eloquent GB representative from the Royal Society for the Prevention of
Cruelty to Prime Numbers, so after long hours of committee deliberations
it was agreed to remove 13-1=12 as a compromise. [That's the same
committee mechanics that brought us 48 bytes as the packet length of
ATM. Both 32 and 64 were proposed, and after an inconclusive beer and
wine drinking contest in a bar near ITU headquaters in Geneva aimed at
arriving at a decision, the delegates finally settled on the arithmetic
mean (32+64)/2=48. The GB delegate from the Royal Society for the
Prevention of Cruelty to Powers of Two was unfortunately already
unconscious at that time.]


P.S.: Alternative explanations welcome.

P.P.S.: I just see with horror that the the math symbol SET OF
SUPERNATURAL NUMBERS is missing from Unicode 3.0. It looks like a
blurred X and can be seen in the opening credits of each X-Files

Markus G. Kuhn, Computer Laboratory, University of Cambridge, UK
Email: mkuhn at,  WWW: <>

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