The American Standard Code for Information Interchange.
You can not tell it's American, because it omits all those funny-lookin' Yooropian characters, like anything with an accent and that daft German B-thing. Oh, and any currency symbols except dollar.
From a technical perspective it's a horrible mish-mash of a character set, a data format and a command language: as well as letters, numbers and other printable symbols, it has codes for things like 'start of heading' and 'start of text', 'enquiry', 'acknowledge', 'bell' (which, when printed, makes the terminal beep!), backspace and carriage return, 'data link escape', 'device control' (available in versions 1-4), 'synchronous idle' and other weird stuff that just doesn't belong.
Also see Uni Code - even more of a mishmash. Not so! Uni Code throws out everything that's not a proper glyph/character/thingie; it just has lots, lots more of them. Um, Uni Code is exactly the same as ASCII at code points 0000 through 007f. Also the double-struck letters N, Z, Q, R, C and a couple of others are in one place with the rest of the double-struck letters far away.
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