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Fonts & Encodings by Yannis Haralambous

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1.5. ISO 8859

As soon as the ISO 2022 standard allowed multiple encodings to be combined in a single data flow, ISO started to define encodings with 96 positions that would supplement ASCII. This became the ISO 8859 family of encodings, a family characterized by its longevity—and its awkwardness.

1.5.1. ISO 8859-1 (Latin-1) and ISO 8859-15 (Latin-9)

The new standard's flagship, ISO 8859-1, was launched in 1987. By 1990, Bernard Marti had written [248, p. 257]: "Unfortunately, the haste with which this standard was established [... ] and its penetration into stand-alone systems have led to incoherence in the definition of character sets."

This flagship is dedicated to the languages of Western Europe. Here is part GR of the standard (parts C0 and GL are identical to those of ASCII, and part C1 was not included in the new standard):

Certain symbols deserve a few words of explanation:

  • NBSP is the non-breaking space.

  • '¡' and '¿' are the Spanish exclamation point and question mark used at the beginning of a sentence. Thanks to these characters, we avoid in Spanish the rather annoying experience of coming to the end of a sentence only to discover that it was a question or an exclamation—and that we shall have to read the whole sentence over again in order to give it the proper intonation.

  • , '£', and are currency symbols: the cent sign, the British pound, and the Japanese yen.

  • '¤' is ...

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