Computer pioneer Bob Bemer

Computer pioneer Bob Bemer

ASCII is the alphabetic character set used used by virtually all computers, including PCs. Bob Bemer spearheaded its development, and passed away today at age 84.

Bemer’s accomplishments resonate so deeply one almost assumes they have
been with us always, snatched out of the ether by a collective
consciousness, instead of having been the creation of one man. A short
list includes:

  • Helped create the 8-bit per byte standard
  • Helped create and standardize the ASCII character set (as in “Father of”)
  • Helped create COBOL (as in “Grandfather of”)
  • Invented the ESCape sequence
  • Put the backslash into the ASCII set
  • Created the PICTURE clause

you non-geeks out there, the above list may appear incomprehensible.
However, let me assure you, these are amazing accomplishments, and puts
him up there with the legendary Grace Hopper
(AKA Grandma COBOL) who pioneered COBOL, invented the compiler, and had
the outlandish idea in the late 40’s that computers could be used for
business purposes. (She also inspired countless women to enter the
computer world.)

also credited with coining the term bug when she traced an error in the
Mark II to a moth trapped in a relay. The bug was carefully removed and
taped to a daily log book. Since then, whenever a computer has a
problem, it’s referred to as a bug.

the computer world now speaks many languages eloquently and fluently,
it’s because pioneers like Bemer and Hopper invented the alphabet, then
words, then sentences…

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