International Characters Support
The first widely character set was the 7-bits ANSI, with values ranging from 0 to 127. Being developped for English, it uses latin character set, but without accents and other punctuation signs.
In the '80s, extensions were provided by using 8-bits character tables, whose characters 128 to 255 where used to encode the missing values. But there were so many that those 128 values were not enough. So a number of maps where defined. For instance, ISO-8859-1 for Western Europeans Languages, with letter for french: é, Nordic languages: Ø, a few symbols: ½, and so on. Typical computer support consisted in early loading the adequate character map, then glyphs were rendered correctly.
The first issue with this approach is about convertion.