Character encoding

Character encoding is the process of assigning numbers to graphical characters, especially the written characters of human language, allowing them to be stored, transmitted, and transformed using digital computers.[1] The numerical values that make up a character encoding are known as "code points" and collectively comprise a "code space", a "code page", or a "character map".

Punched tape with the word "Wikipedia" encoded in ASCII. Presence and absence of a hole represents 1 and 0, respectively; for example, "W" is encoded as "1010111".

Early character codes associated with the optical or electrical telegraph could only represent a subset of the characters used in written languages, sometimes restricted to upper case letters, numerals and some punctuation only. The low cost of digital representation of data in modern computer systems allows more elaborate character codes (such as Unicode) which represent most of the characters used in many written languages. Character encoding using internationally accepted standards permits worldwide interchange of text in electronic form.


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This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Character encoding, and is written by contributors. Text is available under a CC BY-SA 4.0 International License; additional terms may apply. Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.