ASCII vs EBCDIC – Difference and Comparison

What is ASCII?

ASCII or American Standard Code for Information Interchange can be defined as the system for encoding characters for enhancing electronic communication. It was preceded b the Baudot code, which was used in the 1870s. ASCII encoding was developed from the historic telegraph code.

The American Standard Code for Information Interchange was used commercially as a 7-bit teleprinter. This usage was promoted by Bell data services. The significance of this encoding system was elevated in the year 2015 to meet the standards of the Internet.

The coding and encoding related to ASCII take place in the English language. It is easier for computers to process this type of ASCII coding. The alphabets used in this code can be both uppercase and lower case. It is possible to convert any form of text to its number code, using ASCII.

ASCII makes use of seven bits to form a character and it can only represent a total of 128 characters. You cannot represent the letters of Arabic, greek, or any other language into mathematical codes using ASCII. There is also a newer version of ASCII coding which is called extended ASCII. This form stores more characters than its previous updates.

What is EBCDIC?

EBCDIC is an Extended Binary Coded Decimal Interchange Code which is another type of encoding system for professional electronic communication. It supports both the mainframe and midrange computers of IBM. Apart from that, it has the versatility to work on other platforms as well.

Extended Binary Coded Decimal Interchange Code takes eight-bit memory to store or represent characters. EBCDIC also manages to arrange only nine characters at once. However, it can store 256 characters at a single time. Non-IBM platforms that support the EBCDIC forms of encoding include Fujitsu and SDS Sigma Series. Therefore it can also be described as an intercontinental coding system.

It was developed in the early 60s by the IBM group. In those years they were a form of punchin card equivalent for storing employee data. Later, they were used for various types of commercial software. It can also encode limited Latin symbols.

EBCDIC can code both alphabetic characters and punctuation marks, it can code some alphanumeric characters as well. However, the primal language for this type of encoding system remains English. Extended versions of this code are not developed however regular updates in the structure keep taking place.

Difference Between ASCII and EBCDIC

  1. ASCII uses 7 bits to represent a character while EBCDIC implements 8 bits to represent a character.
  2. ASCII arranges all the characters in consecutive order while EBCDIC groups nine characters at a time.
  3. ASCII is compatible with the Unicode system whereas EBCDIC is not compatible with Unicode.
  4. ASCII is used for all types of electronic communication while EBCDIC is mainly used for IBM mainframes
  5. ASCII preceded the Baudot coding system whereas EBCDIC preceded the decimal coding system

Comparison Between ASCII and EBCDIC

Parameters of ComparisonASCIIEBCDIC
Full formASCII is American Standard Code for Information InterchangeEBCDIC is Extended Binary Coded Decimal Interchange Code
Bit representationTakes 7 bits to represent a single characterTakes 8 bits to represent a single character
Total representationASCI can represent a total of 128 charactersEBCDIC can represent a total of 256 characters
EfficiencyASCII has a higher rate of efficiencyEBCDIC has a lower rate of efficiency
Commercial useAlmost all electronic forms of communicationMainly used by IBM mid-range and mainframes