An Introduction to ASCII, From FidoNews

Fidonews                     Page 5                   30 Jun 1986

                     An Introduction to ASCII

The proper and correct names for all those  funny  characters  on
your keyboard, and in computer related text.  Here is the correct
explanation.  Ignore all others;  this is of course the  absolute

ASCII  characters  sometimes  use  parity;  parity is a method of
confusing your computer into thinking that  the  characters  sent
are  something that they are not.  Parity has no practical use in
real life; large computers use parity as part of their religion.

      Space. You can't see it there.

!     Surprise mark; dammit; Incorrectly called "exclamation
      point" by foolish grade school teachers. Usually you will
      find either none or too many; every! other! word! will!
      have! one! or! more!!!

"     Quote; double quote. Usually put around words the author is
      afraid he doesn't understand; for computer programs, it is
      the latter.

#     pound; sharp; it must be called either pound or sharp, even
      though it never means either.  This is a secret password
      into computer priesthood.

$     bucks; or, as originated by Digital Research, "the end".
      Actually, as far as DRI goes, its pretty prophetic ...

%     percent; Used in drawing ugly boxes around useless text, as
      in bulletin boards and the like.

&     and, in logical expressions; ampersand elsewhere. It looks
      nice and is hard to draw by hand. Let your printer do it.

'     little quote; single quote; apostrophe to ignoramuses.
      Since it is very small and hard to see, some computer
      languages use it as an important operator.

(     paren; left paren; open paren; or parenthesis, which is way
      too long a word. Used to correct compiler bugs in operator
      precedence, or by incompetents who cannot memorize a few
      hundred simple rules.

)     paren; right paren; close paren; parenthesis. See above.

*     star; blob; blatz; asterisk. Yet another horrible character
      used to draw boxes. Like most of these, it is used far too
      often to be of any use.

+     plus; "and" if you're sloppy. Connects things together, and
      is sometimes used by people who want to draw boxes but can't
      afford graphics.

,     comma; what can I say?

-     minus if near a number; dash otherwise. Some word
      processors try to fool you that a bunch of these in a row
      is really the end of a page; we know better than that.

.     point if near a number; dot otherwise. Three dots together
      (like ...) can be called "dotdotdot", but it is really an
      ellipsis. This is another test for computer priesthood.

/     slash; divided by; a good compiler will find many
      different, conflicting uses for this in different contexts.

0-9   You know these. 0 is not "oh", it's zero, and is greater
      than 9, as we all know.

:     colon; I have heard that human colons do not resemble this
      in the slightest.

;     semicolon. (Actually, its more than a colon, not part of
      one, it has a tail, but alas ...)

<     angle bracket; less than. Can be put to great use when
      attempting to define the syntax for a computer program,
      like so:

                PROGRAM ARGUMENT [optional { ... } ]

=     equals

>     angle bracket; greater than

?     question mark; what; denotes confusion.

@     blob; at; bang. Usually what your terminal displays just
      before going south with all your days work.

A-Z   If I have to tell you ...

[     bracket; square bracket

\     backslash. There is usually a slash (regular style) to be
      found near by to check that you are paying attention.

]     bracket; square bracket

^     hat; incorrectly called caret. Sometimes means "Control-",
      as in "Control-C", syntactically similar to "Shift-A".  ^A
      is to a as A is to a. Sometimes used to cause arithmetic
      overflows; as in 100^5000.

_     Underscore; incorrectly called underline. This is a
      wonderful character, because you really can't underscore
      another character without writing a long letter to your
      word processor, requesting it do do so.

a-z   See note above on A - Z

`     accent; backwards quote (sic). Not used in any computer
      worth anything. These are meant to be deleted when found.

{     wiggly bracket; squiggly bracket; incorrectly called brace.
      While you may think it is like angle brackets and square
      brackets, it most definitely is not.

|     bar; vertical line. Why does it have that little piece

}     wiggly bracket; squiggly bracket; incorrectly called brace.

~     wiggle; squiggle; traditionally called a tilde, which is
      obscure enough to continue using. Only very good languages
      find a use for this. It is extremely hard to see,
      especially when near a dash, little quote or back quote.

      Aha! Can't see that either! Its a delete!