US-ASCII (was: Re: Invalid UTF-8 sequences)

From: Doug Ewell (
Date: Thu Dec 09 2004 - 10:27:49 CST

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    Arcane Jill <arcanejill at ramonsky dot com> wrote:

    > [OFF TOPIC] Why do so many people call it "US ASCII" anyway? Since
    > "ASCII" comprises that subset of Unicode from U+0000 to U+007F, it is
    > not clear to me in what way "US-ASCII" is different from ASCII. It's
    > bad enough for us non-Americans that the A in ASCII already stands for
    > "American", but to stick "US" on the front as well is just ....

    As a note of historical trivia, today's "US-ASCII" isn't even the same
    character set as the original "USASCII." That was the 1965 version of
    ASCII, which was the first to add support for lowercase letters (the
    original 1963 version left those code points empty), but had a few
    differences from the final 1967 version. I think @ at 0x40 and ` 0x60
    may have been swapped, and the 1965 version may have still had an
    up-arrow and left-arrow. (Sorry, I can't find my copy of Mackenzie
    right now.)

    It was named "USASCII" because at the time, the American standardization
    body was called the United States of American Standards Association
    (USASA), having just changed from "ASA" which had contributed to the
    original name "ASCII." The name was changed to "ANSI" shortly
    thereafter, but as often told, it was decided not to re-rename the
    character set to "ANSCII."

    Today's "US-ASCII" is so called because of the proliferation of
    "national variants" of ISO 646, but since those have largely
    disappeared -- they have, haven't they? -- the "US-" does seem

    > Anyway, back to the discussion on US-Unicode...

    I hope that's just a joke, and not intended to refer to some perceived
    American bias in Unicode...

    -Doug Ewell
     Fullerton, California

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