104

This is covered largely in the history section of Wikipedia’s entry on newlines. Basically there are two primary lineages of operating systems leading to modern-day desktop usage: Windows on the one hand, and Unix-like systems on the other. Windows descends from MS-DOS (because initially it was implemented on top of DOS), which itself inherits much of its ...


75

Keyboards have an asterisk because typewriters did, long before computers existed. Typewriters, particularly mechanical ones, typically made a number of compromises to reduce the number of keys required. For example, many didn‘t have 0 or 1, and people used O and I or l instead. Likewise, × wasn’t needed since x could be used instead, or · (. half-up). The ...


64

Computer terminal keyboards needed to reproduce the symbols available on punched cards and paper tape. In the US, punched cards dominated the data-processing industry (communications uses tended to paper tape). IBM punched card codes in particular were significant in the industry. The IBM 026 keypunch (and its replacement the 029) had an asterisk. By the ...


21

The "PETSCII" encoding is based on keyboard positions of the original PET chicklet keyboard (*1): (Taken from Wikipedia) The keyboard is made similar to basic typewriter keyboards, but ordered in a square fashion, including a top row of symbols but not numbers and a separate numeric keyboard. By every key holding only a single ASCII equivalent ...


16

The first 32 characters in code page 437 were apparently mostly chosen in a single, four-hour “meeting” in a plane, with three people: David J. Bradley, who developed the PC ROM-BIOS, Andy Saenz, who was responsible for the PC’s video card, and Lew Eggebrecht, the IBM PC’s chief engineer. An email conversation with David J. Bradley mentions that If you look ...


13

The reason to use * instead of × is disambiguation. × looks very similar to x now, even more so in the early days of computing, before the laser printer became ubiquitous and you needed typesetting software and a printing press to produce an × that was distinguishable from an x. According to this post, we can blame Fortran: While it is now common practice ...


12

At the time the PC came out, there were at least five common approaches used by ASCII-based devices and systems: Devices receiving a CR would advance to the start of the next line, and lines were delineated with just a CR. An LF might behave identically, or might advance to the same spot on the next line, but it wouldn't usually matter because LF codes ...


11

Really early computers like the Mark I and ENIAC didn't have enough memory to attempt to handle text; also the use-case was mostly calculations. A number of decimal IBM computers used characters (with 5 or 6 usable bits) as the basic unit, and decimal digits were just a special usage of those characters: The IBM 1401 computer, and its compatible successors ...


10

If you want to read it as octal, having the low order 3 bits grouped together is handy. Many of the early ASCII tables showed the codes in octal. HEX makes more sense once your computers begin to work on 8 bit bytes, but earlier computers had units like 36 bit words that were divisible by 3, and this led people to use octal for a few years. Punched cards ...


9

I think the codes were laid out so that when laid out sensibly on the PET keyboard, the shifted and unshifted forms of each key would have a consistent relationship. When the VIC-20 reduced the number of keys but added the Commodore key, this made it necessary to rearrange the placement of graphics on the keys; since Commodore kept the same arrangement of ...


9

Circa 1950 Royal typerwriter. Top row of keys, second from the right. What do you see?


8

Except for the full set of upper- and lowercase letters, there was. The Soviet character encoding standard GOST 10859-64 included all of the ALGOL-60 special characters, and there were card punchers controlled by electric typewriters (Consul-260) with a standard-compliant character set. Note the lack of distinct Latin letters graphically equivalent to ...


4

For what it's worth, I did a quick photo of my C-64 and VIC-20 keyboards, so it's very easy to see the physical grouping of the various graphics/symbols. Commodore C-64 Keyboard: Commodore VIC-20 Keyboard:


3

[No time for a real answer (got to push my narrowboat from Wolverhampton to B'ham), but ...] This page (which is a marvellous collection of TTY manuals) does have at least two charts (7171WD, 7172WD) showing their encoding/population side by side (caution, strange PDF settings).


3

For clarity, I decided to move the KDF9 part of my question to an answer, since that is what it really is... I have no intention of accepting my own answer. My submission for "most nearly fulfilling the requirements" was Algol 60 on the English Electric KDF9 using paper tape prepared on a Friden Flexowriter. The Flexowriter had two cases of ...


1

Singer made a series of retail systems which were taken over by ICL and rebranded. The ICL System 10 used 6-bit bytes for decimal and character data. The ICL System 25 used 8-bit bytes, which were used for full ASCII text, and in arithmetic operations as packed decimal (two 4-bit nibbles holding 0x00 to 0x09). Singer were fairly adventurous. They made sewing ...


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