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ASCII, in computer science, acronym for American Standard Code for

Information Interchange. In computing, a coding scheme that assigns numeric


values to letters, numbers, punctuation marks, and certain other characters. By
standardizing the values used for these characters, ASCII enables computers and
computer programs to exchange information.
ASCII provides for 256 codes divided into two setsstandard and extendedof
128 each. These sets represent the total possible combinations of either 7 or 8 bits,
the latter being the number of bits in 1 byte. The basic, or standard, ASCII set
uses 7 bits for each code, yielding 128 character codes from 0 through 127
(hexadecimal 00H through 7FH). The extended ASCII set uses 8 bits for each
code, yielding an additional 128 codes numbered 128 through 255 (hexadecimal
80H through FFH).
In the standard ASCII character set, the first 32 values are assigned to
communication and printer control codesnonprinting characters, such as
backspace, carriage return, and tabthat are used to control the way information
is transferred from one computer to another or from a computer to a printer. The
remaining 96 codes are assigned to common punctuation marks, the digits 0
through 9, and the uppercase and lowercase letters of the Roman alphabet.
The extended ASCII codes, 128 through 255, are assigned to variable sets of
characters by computer manufacturers and software developers. These codes are
not as interchangeable among different programs and computers as are the
standard ASCII characters. IBM, for example, uses a group of extended ASCII
characters generally called the IBM extended character set for its personal
computers; Apple Computer uses a similar but different group of extended ASCII
characters for its Macintosh line of computers. Thus, whereas the standard ASCII
character set is universal among microcomputer hardware and software, extended
ASCII characters can be interpreted correctly only if a program, computer, or
printer is designed to do so. See also ASCII File; Computer; EBCDIC.
Microsoft Encarta 2008. 1993-2007 Microsoft Corporation. All rights
reserved.

i
i
i
i
i
i
i
i

AND

AND

AND

AND

AND

AND

AND

AND

i
i
i
i

0
0
0

i
i
i

0
0
0
0

s
Back to the Byte
Do you remember the memory byte we drew a few chapters
ago? It was eight memory bits with their s wires all
connected together. Almost every time that we need to
remember a byte inside a computer, we also need an
additional part that gets connected to the bytes
output. This extra part consists of eight AND gates.
These eight AND gates, together, are called an
Enabler. The drawing on the left shows all of the
parts, the drawing on the right is a simpler way to draw

The second input of all eight AND gates are connected


together and given the name enable, or e for short.
When e is off, whatever comes into the Enabler goes no
further, because the other side of each AND gate is off,
thus the outputs of those gates are all going to be off.
When e is on, the inputs go through the Enabler
unchanged to the outputs, o.
By the way, when gates are used for something like this,
the name gate starts to make some sense. An Enabler
allows a byte through when the bit e is 1 and stops
the byte when it is 0. So e being on is like opening a
gate, and e being off is like closing a gate.

Bytes

Register

Enabler

0
0

We will take our byte, and connect it to an enabler, as shown in the left hand drawing. To
simplify once again, we can draw it as shown on the right.
Now we have a combination that can store eight bits. It captures them all at the same time, and it can
either keep them to itself, or let them out for use somewhere else. This combination of a Byte and an
Enabler, has a name, it is called a Register, thus the R in the drawing.
Register simply means a place to record some kind of information, like a hotel register where all the
guests sign in, or a check register where you write down each check that is written. In the case of
this computer part, you record the state of the eight input bits. This register is very limited
though, in that it can only hold one set of values; in a hotel register there is a new line for each
guest. Every time you store a new state in a computer register, the previous state of the eight memory
bits is lost. The only thing that is in there is the most recently saved value.