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Fonts & Encodings by Yannis Haralambous

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1.6. The Far East

The first telegraph systems in the Far East were imported from the West and therefore used the Latin alphabet. How could the thousands, even tens of thousands, of ideographic characters of the Chinese writing system have been encoded, with either Morse code or anything similar? Transliteration into the Latin alphabet was not an option either, as the phonetics of the Chinese language are very ill suited to that approach. Japanese is simpler phonetically, but another problem impeded transliteration: the enormous number of homophones that are distinguished only in writing.

Only computer science could enable the countries of the Far East to communicate conveniently over large distances. The country the best equipped for this task was, of course, Japan. In 1976, three years after the release of ISO 2022, the Japanese prepared the first GR-type encoding—that is, a 94-character supplement to ASCII: JIS C 6220 (which was rechristened as JIS X 0201–1976 in 1987). The ASCII used in Japan was already localized: a yen sign '' replaced the backslash[1-2] and the tilde was replaced by an overbar (for writing the Japanese long vowels in Latin script). JIS C 6220, based on the JISCII released in 1969, contains only katakana and a few ideographic punctuation marks (the period, the quotation marks, the comma, the raised dot), all in half-width characters:

[1-2] As a result of which ...

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