20 years special characters

Special characters – how multilingualism got in every personal computer sold in the market since 1995

Panagiotis Alevantis, 13. Juli 2012

Almost 20 years ago, I had the honor to be the rapporteur of a working group that established the functional specifications of the extended multilingualism for the European Institutions. Few remember this heroic era although everybody in the Commission''s Translation Directorate General, the Commission and the rest of the world will not cease to benefit from this work.

This is why I took the opportunity to upload in my personal web site the document issued by DGT back in 1992 [Multilingualism (The needs of the Institutions of the European Community)] – digitally remastered thanks to Bernd Kappenberg. Once the document was adopted, Lazaros Tossounidis, my friend at the then Direction Informatique (now DIGIT), persuaded Microsoft, Oracle and other IT firms to implement it in their systems. This is how we have extended multilingualism in every personal computer sold in the market since 1995.

When our colleagues from Eastern and Central Europe joined the EU in 2004 and 2007, I was thrilled to watch them arrive in their offices, configure their PCs to deal with their language and their keyboard, then go right to work without the problems the Greek colleagues faced from 1981 to almost 1989 because the computer systems did not support greek nor the extended multilingualism. A full report of this saga has also been published (in Greek)

[excerpt from Facebook]