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Unicode is a modern standard for text representation that defines each of the letters and symbols commonly used in today’s digital and print media. Unicode has become the top standard for identifying characters in text in nearly any language.
Developed in the 1980s, Unicode represented a step toward a more global strategy for text representation than the previously used American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII). Different versions of Unicode have allowed for the representation of diverse languages, including Hebrew and Arabic, which are read differently than texts that use Western alphabets, and languages like Chinese, where more complex glyphs are used in place of individual letters representing a single phonetic sound.
Unicode is allowing for easier standardization of print or digital media conventions, whether for the printed page, or for devices such as smartphones. Unicode is maintained by the Unicode Consortium, a nonprofit that exists to advance the Unicode standard in order to make it easier to deal with cross-platform changes or other new representations of text across new media and technologies.