Difference Between ASCII and EBCDIC (With Table)

ASCII means American Standard Code for Information Interchange and EBCDIC means Extended Binary Coded Decimal Interchange Code. They are a binary form of codes for alpha and numerical sets of characters. These codes are widely used in computers, telecommunication, and other digital mainframes.


The main difference between ASCII and EBCDIC is that ASCII code implements 7 bits to store a character. On the other hand, EBCDIC implements 8 bits to store a character. The former deals with 128 characters in total while the latter represents 256 types of characters.

ASCII is one of the milestones of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Multiple modern encoding systems highly prefer ASCII coding with the addition of characters. The authority for assigning uses the term US-ASCII for this type of character coding. Unicode is one of its extensions.

EBCDIC is an encoding system that preceded the binary coding form of methods. It is mainly used for the first and the second generation of the IBM framework. However, it can also be implemented in the new generations with the storage space for more characters.

Comparison Table Between ASCII and EBCDIC

Parameters of ComparisonASCIIEBCDIC
Full formASCII is American Standard Code for Information InterchangeEBCDIC is Extended Binary Coded Decimal Interchange Code
Bit representationTakes 7 bits to represent a single characterTakes 8 bits to represent a single character
Total representationASCI can represent a total of 128 charactersEBCDIC can represent a total of 256 characters
EfficiencyASCII has a higher rate of efficiencyEBCDIC has a lower rate of efficiency
Commercial useAlmost all electronic forms of communicationMainly used by IBM mid-range and mainframes

What is ASCII?

ASCII or American Standard Code for Information Interchange can be defined as the system for encoding characters for enhancing electronic communication. It was preceded b the Baudot code, which was used in the 1870s. ASCII encoding was developed from the historic telegraph code.

The American Standard Code for Information Interchange was used commercially as a 7-bit teleprinter. This usage was promoted by Bell data services. The significance of this encoding system was elevated in the year 2015 to meet the standards of the Internet.

The coding and encoding related to ASCII take place in the English language. It is easier for computers to process this type of ASCII coding. The alphabets used in this code can be both uppercase and lower case. It is possible to convert any form of text to its number code, using ASCII.

ASCII makes use of seven bits to form a character and it can only represent a total of 128 characters. You cannot represent the letters of Arabic, greek, or any other language into mathematical codes using ASCII. There is also a newer version of ASCII coding which is called extended ASCII. This form stores more characters than its previous updates.

What is EBCDIC?

EBCDIC is an Extended Binary Coded Decimal Interchange Code which is another type of encoding system for professional electronic communication. It supports both the mainframe and midrange computers of IBM. Apart from that, it has the versatility to work on other platforms as well.

Extended Binary Coded Decimal Interchange Code takes eight-bit memory to store or represent characters. EBCDIC also manages to arrange only nine characters at once. However, it can store 256 characters at a single time. Non-IBM platforms that support the EBCDIC forms of encoding include Fujitsu and SDS Sigma Series. Therefore it can also be described as an intercontinental coding system.

It was developed in the early 60s by the IBM group. In those years they were a form of punchin card equivalent for storing employee data. Later, they were used for various types of commercial software. It can also encode limited Latin symbols.

EBCDIC can code both alphabetic characters and punctuation marks, it can code some alphanumeric characters as well. However, the primal language for this type of encoding system remains English. Extended versions of this code are not developed however regular updates in the structure keep taking place.

Main Differences Between ASCII and EBCDIC

  1. ASCII uses 7 bits to represent a character while EBCDIC implements 8 bits to represent a character.
  2. ASCII arranges all the characters in consecutive order while EBCDIC groups nine characters at a time.
  3. ASCII is compatible with the Unicode system whereas EBCDIC is not compatible with Unicode.
  4. ASCII is used for all types of electronic communication while EBCDIC is mainly used for IBM mainframes
  5. ASCII preceded the Baudot coding system whereas EBCDIC preceded the decimal coding system


ASCII is the most preferred form of encoding whereas EBCDIC is not used widely. This is mainly due to its lower efficiency and less memory storage. The 7 character per bit representation makes it a superior encoder in comparison

ASCII and EBCDIC are also not compatible together. This means that both of these encoders will have trouble running on the same system simultaneously. However, they can run smoothly on their specific systems. With ASCII showing faster outputs.

ASCII is a much older coding and encoding system than EBCDIC, this is because the former finds its roots in the last half of the 19th century. EBCDIC was specifically designed to meet the demands of IBM mid-range and mainframe computers in 1963.

Both ASCII and EBCDIC have transformed the digital sector by providing a unique encoding solution. This has impacted the growth of electronic communication vastly. Not only you can communicate the data but with these encoders, you can relay it efficiently.

There ASCII and EBCDIC are essential encoders for this digital interexchange of communication. However, there is also a need for a new and advanced version of these encoders.

ASCII has gone under several updates. It has a different form of extended version for faster data encoding. However, EBCDIC does not include an extended Update. 

The encoding and decoding of data are vital for exchanging information. The advent of ASCII and EBCDIC has benefitted a lot of coding computation. Electronic communication would have been limited without these encoders.


  1. https://dl.acm.org/doi/pdf/10.1145/983061.983063
  2. https://www.osti.gov/etdeweb/biblio/8132901