ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange) is the most common format for text files in computers and on the Internet. Each alphabetic, numeric, or special character is represented with a 7-bit binary number (a string of seven 0s or 1s). 128 possible characters are defined.

UNIX and DOS-based operating systems use ASCII for text files. It was developed by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

The table is divided into 3 different sections.

  • Non-printable, system codes between 0 and 31.
  • Lower ASCII, between 32 and 127. This table originates from the older, American systems, which worked on 7-bit character tables.
  • Higher ASCII, between 128 and 255. This portion is programmable; characters are based on the language of your operating system or program you are using. Foreign letters are also placed in this section.

These characters are the ones used to send and receive email. If you’re familiar with email, you already know that formatting like italic type and underlines are not possible.

Email transmissions are limited to ASCII characters and because of that, graphics files and documents with non-ASCII characters created in word processors, spreadsheet or database programs must be “ASCII-fied” and sent as email file attachments.

Read More about ASCII characters here.

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