Why is ASCII important?

What does ASCII stand for and for what is it used? ASCII is an acronym that stands for American Standard Code for Information Interchange, and it was developed for computers to use as a common language. All computers speak in binary, a series of 0 and 1, but just like English and Spanish can use the same alphabet but have completely different words for similar objects, computers also had their own version of languages. When ASCII came around it taught all computers the same language.

ASCII tables are well known in computer circles. That’s because they are the babblefish that works between computer hard drives and humans. Babblefish, if you don’t know, is a fish from Hitchiker’s Guide of the Galaxy that can be put in your ear to translate alien languages. 

Hard drives store information on magnets (or transistors), that only have two states, on and off. ASCII tables are how we go from a set of eight 0s and 1s (or a byte of data) to the letter “a” or “A”, or the number “4”. The tables are commonly used across all computer systems, which allows my computer to read word documents written on your computer, even if I use a PC and you use a Mac – and no, it was not always like that! The tables include the ASCII alphabet, ASCII binary, ASCII symbols and more!

Check out the video below to learn even more about the ASCII tables. Learn binary and imaging in our newest Teachers Pay Teachers unit! There is a great binary imaging sheet that you can even download for FREE!

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