Python usage numbers

Terry Reedy tjreedy at
Sun Feb 12 17:07:44 EST 2012

On 2/12/2012 10:13 AM, Roy Smith wrote:

> Exactly.<soapbox class="wise-old-geezer">.  ASCII was so successful
> at becoming a universal standard which lasted for decades,

I think you are overstating the universality and length. I used a 
machine in the 1970s with 60-bit words that could be interpreted as 10 
6-bit characters. IBM used EBCDIC at least into the 1980s. The UCLA 
machine I used had a translator for ascii terminals that connected by 
modems. I remember discussing the translation table with the man in 
charge of it. Dedicated wordprocessing machines of the 70s and 80s *had* 
to use something other than plain ascii, as it is inadequate for 
business text, as opposed to pure computation and labeled number tables. 
Whether they used extended ascii or something else, I have no idea.

Ascii was, however, as far as I know, the universal basis for the new 
personal computers starting about 1975, and most importantly, for the 
IBM PC. But even that actually used its version of extended ascii, as 
did each wordprocessing program.

 > people who
> grew up with it don't realize there was once any other way.  Not just
> EBCDIC, but also SIXBIT, RAD-50, tilt/rotate, packed card records,
> and so on. Transcoding was a way of life, and if you didn't know what
> you were starting with and aiming for, it was hopeless.

But because of the limitation of ascii on a worldwide, as opposed to 
American basis, we ended up with 100-200 codings for almost as many 
character sets. This is because the idea of ascii was applied by each 
nation or language group individually to their local situation.

 > Kind of like now where we are again with Unicode.</soapbox>

The situation before ascii is like where we ended up *before* unicode. 
Unicode aims to replace all those byte encoding and character sets with 
*one* byte encoding for *one* character set, which will be a great 
simplification. It is the idea of ascii applied on a global rather that 
local basis.

Let me repeat. Unicode and utf-8 is a solution to the mess, not the 
cause. Perhaps we should have a synonym for utf-8: escii, for Earthian 
Standard Code for Information Interchange.

Terry Jan Reedy

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