Acronym for American standard code for information interchange (ASCII). The standard code-set, established by the American national standards institute, for transmission of telecommunicated data.
Ascii is a code for representing English characters as numbers, with each letter assigned a number from 0 to 127. In binary form, these numbers are stored as eight 0s and 1s, called bits. When you see a text file, you’re actually seeing a long string of 0s and 1s that have been translated into letters, numbers, and symbols by your computer.
Ascii was developed in the 1960s by a committee of computer manufacturers, including IBM, DEC, and Honeywell. The code was based on the earlier telegraph code. In telegraphy, a common code was needed to allow different manufacturers’ equipment to communicate.
The American Standard Code for Information Interchange was published in 1963 as a standard for electronic communication. It is the most common code used for representing English characters on computers.
The Ascii code has been extended to include many non-English characters, such as accented letters, by using what is called an extended Ascii code. However, the original code is still the most widely used code for representing English characters on computers.
The code is also used in other standards, such as the XML and the C programming language.
Ascii is also used in books and publishing. For example, when you create a file in Microsoft Word, the characters you type are stored in Ascii code. When you save the file, the code is translated into a form that your computer can read.
When you buy a book from Amazon, the book’s Ascii code is translated into a form that can be read by your Kindle.