RE: Re[2]: marks

From: Michael Maxwell (
Date: Thu Sep 27 2007 - 09:38:50 CDT

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    > ...Capitals
    > are considered separate letters since long, and have always
    > been encoded separately (except possibly in the early period
    > of telegraphs ...

    Actually, in the early 80s I worked at the University of Washington on a Cyber 170. This was a room-sized computer, originally developed for number crunching for the US Atomic Energy Commission. It had a 60-bit word, and a 6-bit character encoding, which allowed for only upper case characters. (I guess if you work around atomic bombs all day, you SHOUT a lot.)

    Since the UW didn't make a lot of bombs, they developed a way to represent text on this computer. (I guess CDC had donated it to the UW, in the hopes that people would be impressed or something.) Since one would like to have lower-case characters in plain text, the system programmers invented a way to represent lower-case (English!) letters by escaping the upper-case letters with a '\'. The result was that my name would be encoded 'M\i\k\e'. Fortunately, the editor hid this monstrosity, and only occasionally would something go wrong and let you see the internal representation.

    I wrote my dissertation on this computer. When the time came to move a copy of my dissertation over to a "normal" computer, with ASCII characters, someone wrote me a C program to do the encoding conversion.

       Mike Maxwell
       CASL/ U Md

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