Extended Binary Coded Decimal Interchange Code

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Extended Binary Coded Decimal Interchange Code (EBCDIC) is an 8-bit character encoding (code page) used on IBM mainframe operating systems such as z/OS, OS/390, VM and VSE, as well as IBM midrange computer operating systems such as OS/400 and i5/OS (see also Binary Coded Decimal). It is also employed on various non-IBM platforms such as Fujitsu-Siemens' BS2000/OSD, HP MPE/iX, and Unisys MCP. EBCDIC descended from the code used with punched cards and the corresponding six bit binary-coded decimal code used with most of IBM's computer peripherals of the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Contents

History

EBCDIC (pronounced /ˈɛbsɨdɪk/) was devised in 1963 and 1964 by IBM and was announced with the release of the IBM System/360 line of mainframe computers. It is an 8-bit character encoding, in contrast to, and developed separately from, the 7-bit ASCII encoding scheme. It was created to extend the Binary-Coded Decimal (BCD) encoding that existed at the time, which itself was devised as an efficient means of encoding the two zone and number punches on punched cards into 6 bits.

While IBM was a chief proponent of the ASCII standardization committee, they did not have time to prepare ASCII peripherals (such as card punch machines) to ship with its System/360 computers, so the company settled on EBCDIC at the time. The System/360 became wildly successful, and thus so did EBCDIC.

All IBM mainframe peripherals and operating systems (except Linux on zSeries or iSeries) use EBCDIC as their inherent encoding,[1] but software can translate to and from other encodings. Many hardware peripherals provide translation as well and modern mainframes (such as IBM zSeries) include processor instructions, at the hardware level, to accelerate translation between character sets.

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