Why chars unsigned on 3B?

Dick Dunn rcd at opus.UUCP
Wed Jun 6 12:29:31 AEST 1984

>Is it true what I have heard, there are instructions on the 3B to
>implement signed chars easily?  If so, why are chars unsigned in C?

Because someone is trying to drive home the fact that you shouldn't program
in a way that depends on whether chars are signed! :-)

Seriously, why not have chars unsigned by definition on this machine?
There's one particular problem - we've gotten a mess somewhere in the long
path from concept to implementation:  Char not only means a character; it
means an 8-bit quantity.  (I know - where does it say that?  I'm talking
practice here.)  So in a sense, when you mean "signed 8-bit integer" you
say "char" on most machines.  If you mean "unsigned 8-bit integer" you say
"unsigned char".  But how do you say "signed 8-bit integer" on the 3B?  You
get frustrated, kick the terminal, and end up in a cast.  I wish that
tradition hadn't gotten us into this corner...
Dick Dunn	{hao,ucbvax,allegra}!nbires!rcd		(303)444-5710 x3086
	...Never offend with style when you can offend with substance.

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