Character Sets and Encodings

If you are from the United States, you've probably never thought twice about character sets. Most computers use the ASCII encoding, which has 127 characters. That is enough for the 26 letters in the English alphabet, upper case and lower case, plus numbers, various punctuation characters, and control characters like tab and newline. ASCII fits easily in 8-bit characters, which can represent 256 different values.

European alphabets include accented characters like è, ñ, and ä. The ISO Latin-1 encoding is a superset of ASCII that encodes 256 characters. It shares the ASCII encoding in values 0 through 127 and uses the “high half” of the encoding space to represent accented characters as well as special characters like ...

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