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   Unicode.

   Ever wonder how every letter can be uniquely represented? So did a lot of people who put together Unicode. Starting in 1988 with the publication of Joe Becker that outlined the need and a mechanism for such an undertaking Unicode has slowly expanded to now include 1,114,112 individual possible glyph identifiers. As of the end of 2009 some 107,361 have now been assigned. Thankfully, we need never think about much more than the originally ASCII set as most of those code points are for foreign scripts, and ancients scripts such as hieroglyphs.
   So how does it work? Each and every glyph is assigned its own number using a hexadecimal system. This base 16 number which is really convenient for computers allows the saving of large numbers in a small space. So when we type a symbol such as '0' the computer encodes it as 0030. that way any system in the world capable of using Unicode will always equate that with the visual representation we want for '0.'
   Those of us who remember the days of ASCII code realize how small the type world had briefly become. My very first attempt at making a font was using a program written by a dear friend using BASIC. it required the placement and storage of an array of asterisks that where then sent to the screen as pixels or outputed to the printer. Did it look good? Not really, but we thought it was cool. It was a long time between that and the next attempt.