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Dead medium: Dead ASCII Variants
From: voyd@imperium.net (Patrick Lichty)
Source(s):
 Atari 800 Personal Computer Users' Manual ==

Appendix, ATASCII chart

Atari Inc., Sunnyvale, CA

Radio Shack Color Computer II User's Manual

Tandy Corporation, Fort Worth, TX

Personal experience with the Commodore and Timex

computers.

Dead Computer Alphabets

Personal computers of the late 70's and early 80's commonly used extended character sets. These ASCII variants rose above the range of 0-127 used by standard ASCII symbols to address symbols in the numerical ranges of 128-255.

These characters were usually inaccessible by conventional keystrokes, and in most cases provided graphic elements for use in screen layouts, or for the direct entry of machine-code subroutines in BASIC programs (Atari, Commodore C64).

Although graphic characters were used in later personal computers, such as the IBM PC, certain factors make these early character sets unique == and dead.

The console is no longer in mass production, the supporting software is obsolete, and the character set was specific to the computer. The Atari 400, 800, 800XL, and 1200 XL computers used an ASCII variant called ATASCII, or, ATari-ASCII. Specific 'control characters' were accessed through control key combinations or via the BASIC CHAR$() command.

The basic symbol mapping schemes and symbol shapes were similar among different machines, but placement in the sequence varied. The Tandy Color Computer even introduced the element of color into these extended sets.

Known personal computers featuring dead computer alphabets, extended character sets, or ASCII variants:

Atari

400*, 800*, 800XL, 1200XL

Commodore

PET*

C64*?, 128

VIC-20

Tandy

Color Computer I, II, III

The Timex Sinclair ZX-80 had control characters printed on the keyboard.

Information on other computers employing these non- orthodox sets is greatly appreciated.

Patrick Lichty (voyd@imperium.net)