RE: 8-bit ASCII

From: Jim Melton (jim.melton@acm.org)
Date: Fri Feb 23 2001 - 12:09:59 EST


Gentlepeople,

I'm surprised that nobody whose responses I've seen has taken the trouble
to actually go to ANSI to see what "ASCII" means to that
standards-publishing body.

A quick search at http://webstore.ansi.org for the word "ASCII" (without
the quotes, of course) shows the following two hits:

ISO 14962:1997
Space data and information transfer
systems - ASCII encoded English
$26.00

ANSI X3.4-1986 (R1997)
Information Systems Coded Character
Sets 7-Bit American National Standard
Code for Information Interchange (7-Bit
ASCII)
$18.00

X3.4-1986, reaffirmed (most recently) in 1997, is a *7*-bit encoding standard.

The only other standard with "ASCII" in its name is an ISO standard dealing
specifically with encoding English (the language, one assumes, and not the
people) in ASCII form.

ANSI appears to have no knowledge of a standard called "8-bit ASCII".

A search for "8-bit" reveals about 24 standards, all but 2 of which are
from ISO, and most of which are parts of ISO/IEC 8859.

At 06:49 AM 02/23/2001 -0800 Friday, Hart, Edwin F. wrote:
>The US X3 committee changed its name to NCITS, National Committee for
>Information Technology Standardization several years ago after it
>established its web site.
>
>Since several people have stated that the title of the US ANSI/ISO 8859-1
>standard does not include "8-bit ASCII" in the title, then the US does not
>have an official 8-bit ASCII standard. End of Discussion!

I agree. Among the 24 hits I found when searching for "8-bit" is this one:

ANSI/ISO 8859-1-1987
Information Processing 8-Bit Single Byte
Coded Graphic Character Sets Part 1:
Latin Alphabet No. 1
$18.00

This makes it clear that ANSI *does* have an official 8-bit character
encoding standard but that it is *not* called "ASCII"; this standard became
an ANSI standard by ANSI's adoption of the ISO standard. This standard is
what many people call "8-bit ASCII", but it is not (in any official sense!)
"ASCII".

>On Tue, 20 Feb 2001 "Hart, Edwin F." <Edwin.Hart@jhuapl.edu> wrote:
>
> > I am unsure if "8-bit ASCII" is a well-defined term. "ASCII" implies
> > X3.4-1986 and the 7-bit ASCII code. It was my intention for ISO/IEC
>8859-1
> > to be the 8-bit ASCII standard. When the US adopted ISO 8859-1 as a US
> > standard (ANSI/ISO 8859-1), as editor I asked ANSI to add "(8-bit ASCII)"
>to
> > the end of the title. I never purchased a copy to see if ANSI did this.

Apparently (from the ANSI website), that did not happen.

Hope this helps,
    Jim
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Jim Melton --- Editor of ISO/IEC 9075-* (SQL) Phone: +1.801.942.0144
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