Re: Acquiring DIS 10646

From: Asmus Freytag (t) <>
Date: Sat, 3 Oct 2015 12:28:50 -0700
On 10/3/2015 8:15 AM, Sean Leonard wrote:

Well, "DIS 10646" is the Draft International Standard, particularly Draft 1, from ~1990 or ~1991. (Sometimes it might have been called 10646.1.) Therefore it would likely only be in print form (or printed and scanned form). It's pretty old. What I understand is that Draft 1 got shot down because it was at variance with the nascent Unicode effort; Draft 2 was eventually adopted as ISO 10646:1993, and is equivalent to Unicode 1.1. (10646-1:1993 plus Amendments 5 to 7 = Unicode 2.0.)


you never explained your specific interest in this matter. Personal curiosity? An attempt to write the definite history of character encoding?

Your phrase "got shot down because it was at variance with" leaves the nature of the "variance" open to interpretation,  while "shot down" could be seen as implying some unfairness in the process or outcome.

Janusz has quoted Rob Pike's plan-9 paper, and the quote he presents

"Rob Pike, Ken Thompson
Hello World

The draft of ISO 10646 was not very attractive to us. It defined a sparse set of 32-bit characters, which would be hard to implement and have punitive storage requirements. Also, the draft attempted to mollify national interests by allocating 16-bit subspaces to national committees to partition individually. The suggested mode of use was to ‘‘flip’’ between separate national standards to implement the international standard"

stops short right before this sentence:
      "This did not strike us as a sound basis for a character set."

And then they go on to list additional features of draft 10646 that they also found lacking.

The "variance" then was based on pretty deep-seated differences in technical architecture of the character set, with the implementers reacting very negatively to the approach in 10646 and more positively to the basic approach presented by Unicode.

The reaction among implementers at some of the larger IT companies of the day were much in line with Thompson and Pike. Everybody realized that going forward there could only be one "universal" character set, and it became a matter of urgency to make sure that at this crucial turning point, a technically inferior design didn't become adopted.

Unicode, at the time, lacked some of the features that we now recognize as necessary requirements for its ultimate success. Things like UTF-8 and the extension beyond 16 bits. But it did not suffer from some of the crucial drawbacks of the Draft 10646 that people were identifying.

Overall, the level of understanding of the challenges of implementing software for a truly universal character set both seemed daunting and were poorly understood. You can see that spelled out when your read the article - even though it was published some years after the merger of Unicode and (revised) ISO 10646.

We've come a long way down that road.



On 10/2/2015 10:28 PM, Michel Suignard wrote:
ISO never keeps previous versions of standards. You can look into the wg2 web site at that will give you some versions of these documents (Google or your favorite search engine will be your friend) although all that may disappear any day. If you tell me what you are looking for I can help you. Bear in mind that anything that ISO does is copyrighted. Therefore, forget about a free online version of DIS 10646 of whatever version you are looking for.
There is a reason that Unicode (all versions still visible, archive up to 2000 increasingly visible) is a much better source for references.


Received on Sat Oct 03 2015 - 14:30:48 CDT

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