Character width; was: these RTL or what?

William Donzelli wdonzelli at
Sat Oct 6 20:52:57 CDT 2007

> 6 bits was miserably crowded when numbers and punctuation were added.

Six bits also is VERY inefficient for numeric data - all that stuff
the bank uses. In the 1960s, IBM found this was a HUGE percentage of
what was stored on disk. Yes, you could pack 1.5 BCD digits into six
bits, but then there is a overhead dealing with the translation. The
overhead may be tiny on a per digit basis, but when you need to crunch
zillions of digits per nightly run of the batch...

> In retrospect, a 12-bit character would have made a huge amount of
> sense--12 rows on a punch card, so nn need for translation hardware
> to somehow turn legal and illegal punch combinations into characters.

Once again, very inefficient for character data - at least character
data back then. Too many wasted bits.


More information about the cctalk mailing list