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Jargon Guides

The American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII) is a code that assigns characters (letters, digits, punctuation) with numbers. These numbers can be stored in or transferred between computers or other electronic devices. ASCII has a repertoire of 128 characters (including some non-alphanumeric, unprintable control characters), which allows a single character to be stored in seven binary bits.

A major benefit of ASCII is that it is nearly universally used on computers and digital devices. A drawback is its small character repertoire. It lacks many characters that are needed in languages other than English (e.g., ä, é, ß, ζ, þ). Even some characters used in English are missing: e.g., there is no per-mille sign "‰" and a single character has to play the role of hyphen, minus, and dash.

What Does That Mean In English?

If your computer was made in an English-speaking country, the ASCII characters probably correspond to the letters you see on your keyboard. The first letter in this table, before !, is the ordinary space. ASCII also includes various invisible characters such as tabs, deletes and line breaks.

! " # $ % & ' ( ) * + , - . /
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 : ; < = > ?
@ A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O
P Q R S T U V W X Y Z [ \ ] ^ _
` a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o
p q r s t u v w x y z { | } ~