What is Unicode

(This is an excerpt
from www.unicode.org)

What is Unicode?

Unicode provides
a unique number for every character,
no matter what the platform,
no matter what the program,
no matter what the language.

Fundamentally, computers just deal with numbers. They store
letters and other characters by assigning a number for each one. Before Unicode
was invented, there were hundreds of different encoding systems for assigning
these numbers. No single encoding could contain enough characters: for example,
the European Union alone requires several different encodings to cover all its
languages. Even for a single language like English no single encoding was
adequate for all the letters, punctuation, and technical symbols in common use.

These encoding systems also conflict with one another. That
is, two encodings can use the same number for two different characters,
or use different numbers for the same character. Any given computer
(especially servers) needs to support many different encodings; yet whenever
data is passed between different encodings or platforms, that data always runs
the risk of corruption.

Unicode is changing all that!

Unicode provides a unique number for every character, no
matter what the platform, no matter what the program, no matter what the
language. The Unicode Standard has been adopted by such industry leaders as
Apple, HP, IBM, JustSystem, Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, Sun, Sybase, Unisys and many others. Unicode
is required by modern standards such as XML, Java, ECMAScript (JavaScript),
LDAP, CORBA 3.0, WML, etc., and is the official way to implement ISO/IEC 10646.
It is supported in many operating systems, all modern browsers, and many other products.
The emergence of the Unicode Standard, and the availability of tools supporting
it, are among the most significant recent global software technology trends.

Incorporating Unicode into client-server or multi-tiered applications and websites offers
significant cost savings over the use of legacy character sets. Unicode enables
a single software product or a single website to be targeted across multiple
platforms, languages and countries without re-engineering. It allows data to be
transported through many different systems without corruption.

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