The Extended Binary Coded Decimal Interchange Code (EBCIC) is an eight-bit character encoding that is used on IBM mainframe and midrange computers. It has evolved from a version of the PUNCHED CARD encoding used in older systems.
The Extended Binary Coded Decimal Interchange Code (EBCDIC) is an 8-bit character encoding. It was created by IBM in 1963 and is still used in IBM mainframes and midrange computers. It is a predecessor to ASCII, which was a standard for computers in the 1970s. While the latter used seven bits for each character, EBCDIC uses eight. This means that it can encode up to 256 characters, compared to the 128 of the former.
ASCII was developed in the 1960s as a means of transmitting information between different computer systems. Before ASCII was adopted as a standard, computer manufacturers and users could not communicate because there was no common language. A group of computer makers came together and decided on the American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII) in 1963. But while the ASCII standard was approved, IBM spurned it. So it was left to IBM to develop a new character encoding for its machines.
In the 1950s, IBM used six-bit encodings for its peripherals. It was this encoding scheme that inspired IBM to create the Extended Binary Coded Decimal Interchange Code, also known as EBCDIC. These characters were originally based on punch card holes. However, they were not ideal for modern computers.
Unlike the original BCD encoding, EBCDIC is an extension of the original. It is an 8-bit format and is designed for alphanumeric, numeric and symbol characters. There is no parity bit for error checking.
EBCDIC originated from IBM’s punched card holes, and was developed as an extension of its original format. Although it was a popular encoding scheme for its time, it was not a good option for modern computers. Among other things, it was missing several punctuation characters. Also, its non-contiguous letter sequences meant that it was not compatible with the more efficient PDP-11 and PDP-12 encoding schemes.
Currently, EBCDIC is used on IBM’s mainframes and midrange computers, and it is an inherent encoding for OS/390 and S/390 servers. Modern versions of these machines use processor instructions to speed up character set translation. Some IBM machines also include support for other encodings. For example, x3270 family terminals use Unicode internally.
EBCDIC (Extended Binary Coded Decimal Interchange Code) is an eight-bit binary code, which is mainly used on IBM mainframe computers and in peripheral devices. It can also be found in some non-IBM platforms, such as Microsoft Windows and Apple macOS, but the benefits of a multi-bit encoding system are diluted by incompatibility issues.
The first four bits define the character’s class. The second nibble is a bit-swapped version of the character, while the third and fourth are used for error checking. Lastly, the eighth bit is used to provide a set of alternative symbols.
The EBCDIC code was developed by IBM in the 1960s. It was designed to augment the standard binary-coded decimal code used in the company’s punched card machines. At the time, it was the equivalent of the American Standard Code for Information Interchange, or ASCII.
A variant of the EBCDIC was designed by IBM for its System/360 line of mainframe computers. This was followed by several incompatible versions. Today, IBM still manufactures and uses the code.
One notable advantage of EBCDIC is that it can represent 256 different characters. On the other hand, the standard ASCII can only display a maximum of 128 characters, which is insufficient for some applications. Moreover, it lacks a few important punctuation characters.
Interestingly, the first four bits of the EBCDIC are also the first four bits of the standard ASCII. Consequently, the ASCII and EBCDIC versions of the same text are incompatible. However, IBM claims to be an open-systems company, and thus, has a vested interest in maintaining compatibility. Despite this, updates to the standard EBCDIC have been difficult to pull off.
The EBCDIC code is only one of many possible coding methods. As a result, it is not a panacea. It can be a source of frustration in all forms of communication, especially if you are involved in mail relay, a common use case for EBCDIC. There are a number of other methods for encoding attachments.
Hopefully, this overview has helped you learn about EBCDIC. You may now be well on your way to choosing the best coding method for your needs.
Adaptation from PUNCHED CARD machines
In the late nineteenth century, a technological revolution occurred when the Hollerith Punch Card system became widespread. This machine accelerated the rate of calculating operations. The punch cards encoded data in a binary way, using holes punched into the cards to code information.
Punched cards were used as a means to store information and communicate between machines. They were also used for data retrieval. But the Hollerith system soon fell out of favor. In the 1970s, punched cards became obsolete. However, some of the original cards are still around today.
The idea of the punch card was first proposed by Dr. John S. Billings, who was concerned with the speed of census work. He imagined a punch card tabulator, which would create cards with individual data.
Hollerith’s Tabulating Machine Company was established in 1896. The company worked to standardize the size and format of punched cards.
By the 1930s, banks and insurance companies began ordering punched cards equipment. It was a faster way to process data than paper. Eventually, they began to request additional functions.
To create punched cards, Hollerith’s tabulating machines converted handwritten forms into punched cards. These were then read by a tabulator. When the cards were read, a person could see the information and make quick corrections.
As a result of this process, the United States government adopted the Hollerith Punch Card system for the 1890 census. The census was performed faster than in previous years. Despite the Hollerith system’s rapid growth, it has become outdated in recent years.
In addition to the Hollerith system, other devices were developed to improve accuracy. These included encoder machines, which produced more accurate results.
The Hollerith Punch Cards were initially cut from metal sheet with meaning of holes punched into them. Each hole represented a digit in a number field. There were 12 rows of columns in the Hollerith cards, with decimal digits encoded in the first row. Other characters were encoded in rows eleven and twelve above the first row.
Several pre-existing technologies were also incorporated into the punched card. These included Jacquard Loom, automatic telegraph and the automatic tabulator.
Use in modern mainframes only to provide backwards compatibility
The use of mainframes is widespread, particularly in the financial and banking sectors. These systems handle the vast majority of IT workloads. They are capable of executing up to one trillion online transactions daily, and provide the redundancy, reliability and sophistication businesses need.
Today, most businesses are looking for ways to optimize the performance of their mainframes. They can reduce energy costs and carbon footprints, and save a large amount of money. But they must keep up with a growing volume of data.
Some companies use a cloud-first strategy. Others are concerned about the potential of moving their business to the cloud, despite the costs. However, mainframes still remain essential in many sectors.
Backward compatibility is an important feature. However, IBM makes no guarantee that older versions will work in the latest version of the system. For example, DB2 users rebind packages to enjoy the performance benefits of more recent versions.
Many mainframes are capable of hot-swapping hardware. This lets users run multiple operating systems on a single machine. Unlike personal computers, mainframes have high levels of reliability, redundancy and security.
There are two types of processors in a mainframe. Each CPU may contain up to ten cores. Its operating system is often z/OS, which implements UNIX APIs. It supports the UNIX file systems, RACF, SNA, UNIX system services and a 64-bit Java implementation.
Mainframes are also known for their fault-tolerant features. They allow for changes in system capacity without interrupting operations. A mainframe can be configured with up to 160 I/O cards.
Some mainframes use EBCDIC. This is a common language used by IBM, but EBCDIC is incompatible with ASCII-based code pages. Several countries, including Japan, Korea and some East Asian nations, use an extended 16-bit version of EBCDIC.
Despite the use of cloud computing, there is no sign of a decline in the mainframe industry. In fact, IBM recently announced a modernized Z-series mainframe.
The ability to optimize the efficiency of a mainframe can save a company a lot of money. For example, a fine-tuned system can reduce the carbon footprint of an organization, and it can save a great deal of energy.