Re: Cohen's paper on byte order

From: Mok-Kong Shen (
Date: 04/06/03

From: Mok-Kong Shen <>
Date: Sun, 06 Apr 2003 15:52:01 +0200

"Douglas A. Gwyn" wrote:
> David Hopwood wrote:
> > ASCII is a rather ill-defined term.
> I was referring to the *standard* (the "S" in "ASCII").
> I think I have a copy of the 1963 edition around somewhere.
> It's definitely a 7-bit code.

It's common to say ASCII, but there are corresponding
ISO standards, if I don't err. So, if one bother to
refer to the ISO standard, there shouldn't be any
possibility of confusion, I suppose.

> > Who cares? If I ever get access to a PDP-10 to play with,
> > I'll come back to this question.
> That exemplifies an attitude that causes problems in the
> long run. In matters of *standards*, all potential
> platforms need to be considered, not just the ones you
> currently have access to.
> The reason I raised the question is that it shows that
> there is experience about character encoding in non-8-
> bit bytes that is relevant to the issue of what a byte
> "is".

Any standard could barely take care of 'all' things that
exist in the world -- present, past and especially future.
Those that don't fit in the framework have to 'bend'
themselves to fit, if possible, or wait till a future
version of the standard will take care of them. (If the
mountain doesn't come to the prophet, the prophet
will go to the mountain.) But standards are extended
'only' in cases where there are really good reasons
for doing so. A standard for bolts would not be
extended for weird sizes that a single manufacturing
company 'thinks' to be good for its production lines,
for example.

M. K. Shen

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