[Python-Dev] Re: python/dist/src/Objectsunicodeobject.c, 2.204, 2.205

Tim Peters tim.one at comcast.net
Sat Dec 20 00:22:22 EST 2003

> I would expect that a lot of our code assumes 8-bit characters, and I
> personally wouldn't mind if Python was limited to such platforms.
> They aren't very important for attracting new users, and certainly
> they don't seem to be a growing kind of platform...  (Probably because
> so much other software makes the same assumption. :-)

Fine by me too.

The first mainframe I used was a Univac 1108.  There were a *lot* of
competing HW architectures at that time, and manufacturers didn't agree
about character size any more than they agreed about floating-point format
or semantics, or the natural size of "a word".  Univac was forward-looking,
though:  they didn't want their hardware to become obsolete if a different
character size than the one they preferred clicked, so a control bit in the
CPU could be set to treat their 36-bit words as either 6 6-bit characters,
or as 4 9-bit characters.  It worked!  We're *still* equally comfortable
with 6-bit bytes as with 9-bit bytes <wink>.

I was betting on 6-bit bytes at the time, because that also worked well with
CDC's 60-bit words.  FORTRAN didn't even admit to the existence of lower
case at the time, so 64 characters was way more than enough for anything
anyone really needed to say to a computer.

half-the-bits-in-these-new-fangled-bytes-are-just-wasted-ly y'rs  - tim

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