Squinting at ASCII on Linux

By Sandra Henry-Stocker

Back when I started working with computers, understanding the nature of ASCII was exciting. In fact, just knowing how to convert binary to hex was fun. That was a lot of years ago berfore ASCII had yet reached drinking age, but character encoding standards are as important as ever today with the Internet being so much a part of our business and our personal lives. They’re also more complex and more numerous than you might imagine. So, let’s take dive into some of the details of what ASCII is and some of the commands that make it easier to see coding standards in action.


ASCII came about to circumvent the problem that different types of electronic systems were storing text in different ways. They all used some form of ones and zeroes (or ONs and OFFs) but the issue of compatibility became important when they needed to interact. So ASCII was developed primarily to provide encoding consistency. It became a standard in the US in 1960. Initially, ASCII characters used only 7 bits. Some years later, ASCII was extended to use all 8 bits in each byte.

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From: Network World