Pronounced ask-ee, ASCII is the acronym for the American Standard Code for Information Interchange. It is a code for representing 128 English characters as numbers, with each letter assigned a number from 0 to 127. For example, the ASCII code for uppercase M is 77. Most computers use ASCII codes to represent text, which makes it possible to transfer data from one computer to another.
Recommended Reading: Webopedia's ASCII table page.
Text files stored in ASCII format are sometimes called ASCII files. Text editors and word processors are usually capable of storing data in ASCII format, although ASCII format is not always the default storage format. Most data files, particularly if they contain numeric data, are not stored in ASCII format. Executable programs are never stored in ASCII format.
The standard ASCII Character Set
The standard ASCII character set uses just 7 bits for each character. There are several larger character sets that use 8 bits, which gives them 128 additional characters. The extra characters are used to represent non-English characters, graphics symbols, and mathematical symbols.
Several companies and organizations have proposed extensions for these 128 characters. The DOS operating system uses a superset of ASCII called extended ASCII or high ASCII. A more universal standard is the ISO Latin 1 set of characters, which is used by many operating systems, as well as Web browsers.
Another set of codes that is used on large IBM computers is EBCDIC.
Stay up to date on the latest developments in Internet terminology with a free newsletter from Webopedia. Join to subscribe now.
From A3 to ZZZ we list 1,559 text message and online chat abbreviations to help you translate and understand today's texting lingo. Includes Top... Read More »Huge List of Computer Certifications
Have you heard about a computer certification program but can't figure out if it's right for you? Use this handy list to help you decide. Read More »
Computer architecture provides an introduction to system design basics for most computer science students. Read More »Network Fundamentals Study Guide
Networking fundamentals teaches the building blocks of modern network design. Learn different types of networks, concepts, architecture and... Read More »The Five Generations of Computers
Learn about each of the five generations of computers and major technology developments that have led to the computing devices that we use... Read More »