Viewing a single comment thread. View all comments

aiusepsi t1_je4ogqj wrote

ASCII actually only uses 7 bits per letter, but because the smallest block of bits that a typical computer can individually access is 8 bits, the 8th bit goes unused and is always 0.

Which turned out to be very useful; the extra bit can be used for backwards-compatible extensions to ASCII, like UTF-8, which can represent characters not available in ASCII.