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<p>The global market for software written in native languages has spurred the interest in multilingual text encoding. Although ASCII is the accepted standard and works well for English, its 7-bit structure provides codes for only 128 characters, a number insufficient to represent some languages. The limited number of character codes also presents problems when you want to mix languages. </p> <p>Unicode is one proposed solution. A consortium met in 1991 to develop and promote Unicode. They chose a 16-bit structure and, for simplicity, did not include information on what language the code represents. Although this does provide a general, comprehensive encoding structure, Unicode's attempt to unify the character representation for all languages can lead to unwieldy files and more work for programmers. </p> <p>Because of these problems, the author created Multicode in 1996. Its most important feature is the use of multiple character sets, each of which can represent a particular language. Multicode allows 8-bit representations-adequate for most languages-as well as the 16-bit representations required for languages with more characters, such as Japanese, Chinese, and Korean. Through switch characters, Multicode can support files that incorporate more than one language. </p>

M. F. Mudawwar, "Multicode: A Truly Multilingual Approach to Text Encoding," in Computer, vol. 30, no. , pp. 37-43, 1997.
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