What does ASCII Stand For?

ASCII stands for American Standard Code for Information Interchange. It is a form of character encoding that is based on the English alphabet. ASCII codes represent the text in computers and communication tools that handle text.

ASCII characters were developed from telegraphic codes. Work on developing the ASCII standard began in 1960. The first edition came up only in 1963. The standard underwent updates in 1967 and in 1986. The committee working on the development of the ASCII character set contemplated the use of a shift key functionality, which would allow them to build 6-bit representations of character symbols. By implementing the shift key functionality in their design, they were going to create some character codes that would determine which character code options to follow. However, the shift key function was discarded from the design and eight-bit codes were formulated. This also allowed the ASCII code design to support parity bits. Robert Berner, a computer scientist at IBM, was instrumental in the development of some features that were added to ASCII in its revised versions.

The ASCII character set is a collection of 33 non-printing characters, 94 printable characters and the space character that is not printable. The first 32 ASCII codes are reserved for control characters like the null characters, characters for denoting start and end of text, the line feed character, the shift in and shift out characters as also the characters used for controlling devices. The other ASCII codes are allotted for actual printable character symbols. The ASCII code provides a mapping between digital bit patterns and characters, thus allowing devices to communicate with each other.

History of Macintosh Computers

Apple Inc., a famous name in the computer industry, refers to a company that develops and markets personal computers with the brand name Macintosh. Macintosh is better known as Mac. The Macintosh 128K, released on January 24, 1984, was a commercial success. It was the first personal computer which came with a mouse and a graphical user interface. With the passing years, Apple Inc. evolved and today, it is a business giant in the field of computers.

History

Jef Raskin, a human computer interface expert from America, was an Apple employee who came up with the idea of building an affordable and easy-to-use computer. In 1979, Raskin started planning for building a team that would bring his idea into reality. He soon formed a team of Bill Atkinson, a Lisa team member, Burrell Smith, a service technician and others. Soon, they started working on Raskin’s idea. The first Macintosh board that their team developed had a 64 KB RAM, used a Motorola microprocessor and featured a black and white bitmap display.

By the end of 1980, Smith, one of the team members of the first Macintosh team, created a board that ran on a higher speed, featured a higher-capacity RAM and supported a wider display. Steve Jobs, impressed by this design, began to take interest in this project. His ideas have highly influenced the design of the final Macintosh. Jobs resigned from Apple in 1985.

The following years witnessed the development of desktop publishing and other applications such as Macromedia FreeHand, Adobe Photoshop, and Adobe Illustrator, which helped in the expansion of the desktop publishing market. It was also during these years that the shortfalls of Mac were exposed to the users. It did not have a hard disk drive and had little memory. In 1986, Apple came up with Macintosh Plus. It supported some excellent features like the parallel SCSI interface, a megabyte of expandable RAM, and support for attachment of peripheral devices. The MacPlus was produced until 1990, making it the longest-lived Macintosh.

In 1987, Apple brought about HyperCard and MultiFinder, which endowed Macintosh with multitasking features. After Macintosh II, Macintosh SE was released. The Macintosh SE supported the Snow White language and the Apple desktop bus mouse and keyboard.

Claris, a computer software company formed as a spin-off from Apple Computer in 1987, brought the Pro series to the market. Their line of products included the MacPoint Pro, MacDraw Pro and others. By the early 1990s, Claris had become immensely popular. Claris released ClarisWorks, which later came to be known as AppleWorks.

In 1991, Macintosh came up with System 7, a 32-bit rewrite of their operating system. They soon introduced Macintosh Quadra 700 and 900, both using the Motorola 68040 processor. They also established the Apple Industrial Design Group to work on further developments in their operating system. The year 1991 witnessed the creation of the PowerBook Range by Apple. In the following year, Apple started selling their low-end Mac, Performa. In 1994, they started using the RISC PowerPC architecture developed by the alliance of Apple Computer, IBM, and Motorola. Their new product line was a huge success.

Apple has always had to face fierce competition from Intel and Microsoft. After the return of Steve Jobs, Apple had a ‘no looking back’ period. They introduced an all-in-one Macintosh and called it iMac. It was a great success. In 1999, they came up with iBook, their first laptop computer. The Mac Mini launched in 2005, is the least expensive Mac till today. Mac OS 9 evolved to Mac OS X that was based on Unix. Mac OS X came up in 2000. The MAC OS remains to be one of the most popular operating systems till date.

The glorious history of Macintosh computers convinces us of their bright future.