On 2001 Aug 07 I received an odd e-mail query. On the off chance
that Satanic rumors are circulating about ASCII, I thought to let
everyone know my rebuttal. Here is the question:
"Recently there came to my attention a possible religious
reference in the ASCII Code. I have been trying to research
this, and the ASCII Code's origin.
Your question is easily answerable by the following:
When developing this code, were any "hidden messages" encrypted
into it? I don't know if it is mere coincidence, or if you or one
of your colleagues purposely made the code to reflect the
The word "Christ" in ASCII equates to the total sum of 621.
Subtracting this number from the designated number for the antiChrist,
666, you end up with a difference of 45. The ASCII code for 45 is the
"-" symbol. Putting those two together for a total of 666 you get
"-Christ" as in "Minus Christ". Which in turn is the meaning of
Please respond. I am very interested in your work, and
puzzled by this observation."
On the day when ASCII was first approved as a standard,
John Auwaerter and I shook hands outside the meeting
room, and agreed that we would go with what the working
committee had confirmed 15 or so minutes prior. John
was then VP of Engineering for Teletype Corporation,
which was awaiting the new code to build it into their
new line -- Models 33, 35, and 37 to begin, with an
8-track perforated paper tape. I was in charge of the
Logical Systems Standards Group for the IBM Corporation,
a company of formidable force in those days.
This was at the end of a strong presentation I had made
to the committee. At the beginning of the meeting they
were still working on the model that had the alphabets
beginning in the first position of each column. I had
been talking to the European Computer Manufacturers
Association and the British Standards Institution, and
was told in no uncertain terms that those bodies would
not give international approval unless the alphabet
started in the second position. I argued that this
should be done, and, seeing no big reasons not to do so,
it was thus changed then and there.
And that's the way it is today, when you say that some
person has added the decimal ordinal ranking numbers
for the 6 characters in "Christ" and found them to sum
to 621. And, when the minus sign is added with a value
of 45, yielded 666 -- the ominous number associated with
some Biblical references.
This contrivance is pure hogwash:
So you can see that neither I nor any colleague made a
deliberate Satanic plot. But I can tell you how to get
to 666 anyway -- just add enough 1's together.
- When the positions for the alphabet were agreed,
ASCII did not have any lower case! Lower case was
filled in years later. So the 666 value would have
been 506 ("hrist" being in upper case with
a loss of 32 each).
- Even when lower case was added, one might spell
the name all lower case or all caps without being
struck down. Still no match.
- Clincher -- if I had not persuaded them to begin
the alphabet in the second row and not the first,
the sum would have been 500!