Re: Re[2]: marks

From: Hans Aberg (
Date: Fri Sep 28 2007 - 03:50:35 CDT

  • Next message: Dmitry Turin: "Re[4]: Marks"

    On 27 Sep 2007, at 16:38, Michael Maxwell wrote:

    >> ...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 recall using a teletype with a minicomputer in the first half of
    the 1970s, which looked like the ASR-33:
    And it was uppercase only, I think. This article says that this
    ASR-33 TTY was ubiquitous with minicomputers, so it is consistent
    with my memory fragments. So even if case-sensitive ASCII may have
    been around, it took a long time for it to come into general use in
    computers. In some sense, that is similar to that of Unicode.

    > 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.

    This is incidentally pertinent to the discussion here, because the
    math typing issues has no been developed to the point that one can
    develop a plain text only format for that. Instead, one will have to
    develop different markups (technically: computer languages) on top of
    the character set, and convert it, would be a plain text format would

       Hans Åberg

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