Re: UTF-8, ISO C Am.1, and POSIX

From: Martin J. Dürst (
Date: Tue Aug 19 1997 - 15:13:24 EDT

On Tue, 19 Aug 1997 wrote:

Hello Sandra,

> Technology changes with blinding speed, but plain old everyday
> users may change at glacial speed. Just as left-hand driving and
> EBCDIC are not as confined as some may think, other encodings are
> not only cowering in niches waiting to be swept away by a convergence
> to a single encoding. There's no doubt companies and countries are
> reducing the use of proprietary encodings, but reducing does not
> mean the same thing as eliminating.

I don't disagree. Old things are tough, and may not go away with
convergence, for various reasons. But EBCDIC is a good examlpe. It
is still used on some kinds of machines, and the number of these
machines may even be increasing. But the decisive question is:
If an EBCDIC machine and an ASCII machine want to talk to each other,
what do they use? The answer of course is ASCII. And the answer in
the future will be Unicode.

HTML uses Unicode as a kind of reference encoding.
Java uses Unicode internally everywhere.
Some new Internet protocols use UTF-8 exclusively (e.g. ACAP).

EBCDIC machines can serve as web clients and servers. But
they won't talk EBCDIC in the protocol, won't use EBCDIC
for the names of the resources they serve, and won't serve
documents in EBCDIC. In the future, the same will happen to
machines that use something else than Unicode. Locally, every
machine and application will have a choice of whether, when,
and how to convert to Unicode. But for global communication,
no choice will be needed anymore.

Regards, Martin.

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