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Bob Bemer, father of ASCII, dies

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Computing pioneer Bob Bemer, who warned the unheeding world of the Y2K problem back in 1971, has died.

Bemer was instrumental in some of the major changes in the history of computing, happily donning the mantle of "father of ASCII", for example.

Then IBM's director of programming standards, Bemer spearheaded the American Standards Institute committee which came up with the ASCII communications code, which is still the most widely used in IT.

He was also responsible for coining the name Cobol (Common Business Oriented Language). The language he helped to develop dominated commercial programming throughout the years of mainframe supremacy.

Bemer's professional energy was reflected in his private life. He married six times and had 11 children.

Modesty was not his strong point. He drove cars with "vanity" number plates "COBOL" and "ASCII", the latter bearing the subscript "Yes, I am the father of ASCII."

Last year Bemer received the IEEE's Computer Pioneer Award for "meeting the world's needs for variant character sets and other symbols, via ASCII, ASCII-alternate sets, and escape sequences".

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