RE: DEC multilingual code page, ISO 8859-1, etc.

From: Murray Sargent (
Date: Wed Mar 22 2000 - 19:55:45 EST

What a horrible summary of the history of IBM PC! Pls read the intro to my
book "The Personal Computer from the Inside Out", Addison-Wesley (or one of
the original editions under the title of "The IBM Personal Computer from the
Inside Out"). It gives quite a different perspective from a couple of
authors thoroughly familiar with the CP/M - Apple II environment at the
time. It also goes into great length describing the hardware and software
that made the machine such a success in its time. Sure things are much
better now, but IBM did some really cool stuff relative to the state of the
PC art at the time. Then after the IBM AT (a stunning machine for its
time), mainstream IBM caught on, got worried, and disrupted the free spirit
that got the IBM PC going, causing IBM PCs to flounder. E.g., the PS2 line
came out long after Compaq and others had 386 boxes running well and had
stolen the market.

On a different topic, the 125x's will or shortly will be standardized (as
well as de facto) code pages for info interchange on the Internet. One can
gripe about the situation, but it evolved along with the web and there's
nothing one can do to perfect things at this point. Life is a series of
compromises. As is Unicode. If Unicode had been perfect, it never would
have succeeded, since backwards compatibility is so important.

Cheers from drizzleville!

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Frank da Cruz []
> Sent: Wednesday, March 22, 2000 9:12 AM
> To: Unicode List
> Cc: Unicode List
> Subject: Re: DEC multilingual code page, ISO 8859-1, etc.
> Ed Hart wrote:
> > Actually, there were 3 very similar proposals in the draft stage and the
> 3
> > differed in only a few character assignments:
> >
> > ECMA 94, ISO 8859-1, and ANSI dp 131.2 (or 132.2)
> >
> > I heard that representatives from the 3 organizations developed a
> compromise
> > proposal that became ECMA 94 and ISO 8859-1. The ANSI proposal was
> never
> > progressed beyond the draft stage and in the early 1990s, ANSI/ISO
> 8859-1
> > was adopted instead as the "8-bit ASCII" standard.
> >
> In which the C1 area is reserved for controls, in conformance with ISO
> 4873
> and 2022.
> The point is, PC code pages are not for information interchange. They are
> for internal use in the PC by its applications. The first step -- at
> least
> the first significant one -- down the slippery slope came with CP437.
> It has long been my (unsubstantiated) view that the success of the IBM PC
> was entirely unexpected. Remember that in 1980 there were hundreds of
> different kinds of computers, including desktop ones (Apples, CP/M-80,
> CP/M-86, etc), and IBM had previously tried to enter this arena not once,
> but twice, and failed (first with a desktop APL system, then with the
> CS9000).
> But a group within IBM thought they should not totally give up on this
> market and won the right to slap something together hurriedly that (a)
> would
> trump the CP/M market by offering 16 bits and (up to) 640K of memory
> ("more
> memory than you'll ever need"), and (b) putting the IBM logo on it. But
> it
> certainly wasn't the only game in town. As far as I can tell, the PC was
> put together from Radio Shack parts and the result was (a) successful
> beyond
> their wildest dreams, and (b) an architectural and design nightmare, one
> that determined the future of computing for decades to come. My point
> being
> that IBM, if they had it to do over again, might have put a bit more
> thought
> (funding, time) into it.
> - Frank

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