What is Unicode?
Unicode provides a unique number for every
no matter what the platform,
no matter what the program,
no matter what the language.
Fundamentally, computers just deal with numbers. They store
letters and other characters by assigning a number for each one.
Before Unicode was invented, there were hundreds of different
encoding systems for assigning these numbers. No single encoding
could contain enough characters: for example, the European Union
alone requires several different encodings to cover all its
languages. Even for a single language like English no single
encoding was adequate for all the letters, punctuation, and
technical symbols in common use.
These encoding systems also conflict with one another. That is,
two encodings can use the same number for two different
characters, or use different numbers for the same character.
Any given computer (especially servers) needs to support many
different encodings; yet whenever data is passed between different
encodings or platforms, that data always runs the risk of
Unicode is changing all that!
Unicode provides a unique number for every character, no matter
what the platform, no matter what the program, no matter what the
language. The Unicode Standard has been adopted by such industry
leaders as Apple, HP, IBM, JustSystems, Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, Sun,
Sybase, Unisys and
others. Unicode is required by modern standards such as XML,
the official way to implement ISO/IEC 10646. It is supported in many
operating systems, all modern browsers, and
many other products. The
emergence of the Unicode Standard, and the availability of tools
supporting it, are among the most significant recent global software
Incorporating Unicode into client-server or multi-tiered
applications and websites offers significant cost savings over the
use of legacy character sets. Unicode enables a single software
product or a single website to be targeted across multiple
platforms, languages and countries without re-engineering. It allows
data to be transported through many different systems without
About the Unicode Consortium
Unicode Consortium was founded to
develop, extend and promote use of the Unicode Standard, which
specifies the representation of text in modern software products and
standards. The Consortium is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) charitable organization. The membership of the Consortium represents a broad
spectrum of corporations and organizations in the computer and
information processing industry. The Consortium is supported financially through membership dues and donations. Membership in
the Unicode Consortium is open to organizations and individuals anywhere in the world who support the Unicode Standard and wish to assist in its extension and implementation. All are invited to contribute to the support of the Consortium's important work by making a donation.
For more information, see the