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Alphanumeric (sometimes shortened to alphameric) is a combination of alphabetic and numeric characters, and is used to describe the collection of Latin letters and Arabic digits or a text constructed from this collection.
In other locales, the term "alphanumeric" applies to a broader character set.
Subsets of alphanumeric used in human interfaces
When a string of mixed alphabets and numerals is presented for human interpretation, ambiguities arise. The most obvious is the similarity of the letters I, O and Q to the numbers 1 and 0. Therefore, depending on the application, various subsets of the alphanumeric were adopted to avoid misinterpretation by humans.
In passenger aircraft, aircraft seat maps and seats were designated by row number followed by column letter. For wide bodied jets, the seats can be 10 across, labeled ABC-DEFG-HJK. The letter I is skipped to avoid mistaking it as row number 1.
In Vehicle Identification Number used by motor vehicle manufacturers, the letters I, O and Q are omitted for their similarity to 1 or 0.
Tiny embossed letters are used to label pins on an V.35/M34 electrical connector. The letters I, O, Q, S and Z were dropped to ease eye strain with 1, 0, 5, and 2. That subset is named the DEC Alphabet after the company that first used it.
For alphanumerics that are frequently handwritten, in addition to I and O, V is avoided because it looks like U in cursive, and Z for its similarity to 2.
- man ASCII(7), "American Standard Code for Information Interchange"
- The Open Group Base Specifications Issue 7, Locale: http://pubs.opengroup.org/onlinepubs/9699919799/basedefs/V1_chap07.html