ASCII stands for American Standard Code for Information Interchange. It is the most commonly used format for text files on the internet and in computers. In the ASCII system, each number, special character or alphabetic is represented with a 7-bit binary digit.
Modern character-encoding systems are based on ASCII, but they can also support many other characters.
ASCII was developed first in 1963 by a subsection of the American Standards Association, and is divided into three different groups:
Non-printable – schemes codes between 0 and 31
Lower ASCII – system codes between 32 and 127 and is originated from the of age American systems which functioned on the table of 7-bit characters.
Higher ASCII – represents values between 128 and 255. This section is programmable and the characters are based on the program or operating system language you are using. This portion also uses foreign letters.
This numbering code is used by many system designers and programmers, making it easy to exchange data between different programs, different computers and also between different operating systems. For example, if you are using MacWrite in Mac computer and want to share with someone the file in WordStar on PC, you can easily do so by saving the document in ASCII format and transfer.
There is a possible of 256 characters in the code, though ASCII standardizes only a total of 128 characters. Also, the first 32 of 128 characters are the “control characters” which as the name suggests, are used to control the device and don’t appear on the screen. This leaves just enough code numbers for all lowercase and upper case letters, common punctuation marks, and the digits.
The widely use of ASCII which can also be converted easily into binary number system and binary can also be converted to ASCII, also means your print basic numbers and text easily on any printer except the PostScript printers.
The downside of ASCII is that the code does not include information on how the text should appear (its format). It only indicates the characters that the text contains. If you save your document in ASCII format, you will lose your font formatting including the italics, typeface changes, as well as the special characters such as TM.