Character sets are like the force: they surround us and penetrate us, binding all our digital world together. A character set is how we convert the 1’s and 0’s that the computer understands into human-readable characters like ABC. In one of the first character sets, ASCII, the number 97 is translated to “a” and 63 is the question mark (?).
“Are there other languages besides English?”
“Don’t think so, Bob.”
The trouble with ASCII is that it was created back in the ‘60s by a bunch of Americans and they were not thinking about French or German, they were thinking about English. Guess what? ASCII works great for American English, but there’s no way it can encode even Spanish, let alone something like Chinese, so it only met the needs of around 5% of the world …[Read more]