ASCII stands for American Standard Code for Information Interchange. It is a form of character encoding that is based on the English alphabet. ASCII codes represent the text in computers and communication tools that handle text.
ASCII characters were developed from telegraphic codes. Work on developing the ASCII standard began in 1960. The first edition came up only in 1963. The standard underwent updates in 1967 and in 1986.
The committee working on the development of the ASCII character set contemplated the use of a shift key functionality, which would allow them to build 6-bit representations of character symbols. By implementing the shift key functionality, they were going to create some character codes that would determine which character code options to follow.
However, the shift key function was discarded from the design and eight-bit codes were formulated. This also allowed the ASCII code design to support parity bits. Robert Berner, a computer scientist at IBM, was instrumental in the development of some features that were added to ASCII in its revised versions.
The ASCII character set is a collection of 33 non-printing characters, 94 printable characters and the space character that is not printable.
The first 32 ASCII codes are reserved for control characters like the null characters, characters for denoting start and end of text, the line feed character, the shift in and shift out characters as also the characters used for controlling devices.
The other ASCII codes are allotted for actual printable character symbols. The ASCII code provides a mapping between digital bit patterns and characters, thus allowing devices to communicate with each other.