The American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII) is a character encoding standard for electronic communication. The primary use of ASCII is to represent text-based information such as typewritten documents, emails, websites, and other computer-generated data in a standard, consistent form.
Developed in the early 1960s by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), ASCII provides 128 specific letters, numbers, punctuation marks, and control codes that are used to define a text file. Although characters beyond the standard ASCII set can also be linked, the ASCII character set is the global standard for exchanging information between different computer systems.
In addition to defining characters, ASCII also specifies how those characters should be transmitted. When two computers are connected, one computer must identify the encoding standard that the other computer is using, and there are few encoding standards that allow for universal communication as well as ASCII does.
ASCII uses seven bits of data to represent a character and is able to represent 128 characters with those seven bytes. ASCII is compatible with most computers because it does not depend on a particular hardware or software manufacturer but is an internationally recognized standard. Because of its wide compatibility, it still remains in use today and is supported by most modern software programs.
Some of its uses include its application in the computer science industry for storing data, formatting web pages, programming, and sending messages through the internet. ASCII is also commonly used to convert text and numeric information into a binary format that can be read by computer systems.
Using ASCII is considered an easy and reliable way to transfer data and is still the basis for many online systems and communication protocols today.