Last week Base 8. This week FRACTIONS!
In discussing "writing" by typing on computers, I would like to bring up the problem of typing fractions
on a keyboard. At the end of Tom Lehrer's song "New
Math", he promised that after talking about subtraction in Base 8, "Next week FRACTIONS", but he never
Most style manuals would have a typist spell the fraction "One and a half" as 1 1/2 (One Space One Slash Two).
I'm a ham radio operator. Ham radio is a a hobby that grew out of telegraphy over radio, and the Morse Code
characters themselves are based on dots, dashes, and the spaces between these two types of "audio
components" that make up each character. The
ITU (International Telecommunications Union)
on the transmission of telegrams (still in effect today) state that fractions shall be transmitted with the
"dash" character between the whole number and the numerator, with the numerator and denominator separated
by a "slant bar" character, usually just called "slash". Our "One and a half would be typed as "One
Dash One Slash Two" (1-1/2). By using the dash character instead of a space character, there
is no confusion when transmitting or receiving fractions using the Morse Code, and later using the
Baudot code via Telex. Today we use use Unicode characters, a descendant of ASCII (the American Standard
Code for Information Interchange)
As an aside, "Back-slash" is ONLY used in describing Microsoft file names on a Windows based computer,
while "Forward Slash" is redundent, since only the word "slash" is necessary for expressing Web Addresses
and file name locations on the Internet.
I consider e-mails to be the direct linear descendant of Telegrams, and so I proudly use the Telegraph
required format for typing fractions in my e-mails and other typed correspondence. Then again, I admit
that I consider myself a Licensed Geek, since I hold Ham Radio License N4SCY.
The Telegraph Regulations on Signatures in Telegrams state that a Signature shall be intented 5 or more
spaces, so I use that rule in my e-mails as well.
Typing fractions in e-mails and text files
Ozzie Osband, Licensed Geek (ham radio license N4SCY)
Ozzie, Licensed Geek (ham radio license N4SCY)
1 1/2 1-1/2