Hey so I'm losing my mind over this, I have some program written in c that gets some string as an input directly from terminal then prints the ascii value of each byte entered within the string, I'm trying to enter extended ascii values (value is bigger than 127) and I'm failing to do so. specifically I need to enter the ascii value of 137 as an input for the string -> hence enter a character with that value I've tried nearly everything:

  • Compose key and entering: e + "
  • Unicode value ctrl + shift + u followed by hexadecimal value of ascii code - Enters it as unicode hence takes two bytes instead of one byte wth the value of 137
  • ctrl + d - doesn't support extended ascii values

anyways, If someone knows how to solve this, it would be helpful for me

  • If your terminal supports unicode then I suspect you will find it impossible, as extended ASCII values are not valid. Jan 17, 2017 at 14:10
  • Virtual terminal or terminal emulator? In a graphical desktop environment, and if so what DE? By the way, ASCII is 0 to 127. There is no such thing as ASCII value 137.
    – AlexP
    Jan 17, 2017 at 16:02

3 Answers 3


You could use luit, which would let you run your cp850 application in (whatever locale you can find for this) in a UTF-8 terminal, and let luit do the translation to/from the UTF-8.

For what it's worth, a screenshot of cp850 with luit:

enter image description here

The screenshots were setup by a set of scripts which displayed a test-screen for each locale encoding. Not all encodings have corresponding locale information configured. The 761 locales listed on my Debian 7 system using locale -a correspond to only 32 encodings:

  ANSI_X3.4-1968      EUC-TW              ISO-8859-14         ISO-8859-9
  ARMSCII-8           GB18030             ISO-8859-15         KOI8-R
  BIG5                GB2312              ISO-8859-2          KOI8-T
  BIG5-HKSCS          GBK                 ISO-8859-3          KOI8-U
  CP1251              GEORGIAN-PS         ISO-8859-5          RK1048
  CP1255              ISO-8859-1          ISO-8859-6          TCVN5712-1
  EUC-JP              ISO-8859-10         ISO-8859-7          TIS-620
  EUC-KR              ISO-8859-13         ISO-8859-8          UTF-8

If you have a recent version (e.g., 2.0 in 2013) of luit, and the locale information installed, running it is simple:

luit -encoding cp850

That runs a shell in which applications use codepage 850, but your select/paste (and keyboard) are translated to/from the locale encoding in the outer shell (assumed to be UTF-8, since it wouldn't work with just the POSIX locale).

The -v (verbose) option shows a little detail:

$ luit -encoding cp850 -v -v
cachedCharset 'ASCII'
using unknown 94-charset
getCharsetByName(CP 850)
cachedCharset 'CP 850'
using unknown 94-charset
Input: G0 is ASCII, G1 is Unknown (94), G2 is CP 850, G3 is Unknown (94).
GL is G0, GR is G2.
Output: G0 is ASCII, G1 is Unknown (94), G2 is CP 850, G3 is Unknown (94).
GL is G0, GR is G2.

Using the older luit doesn't work as well, since it relies upon incomplete locale information. Here's what luit 1.1.1 does:

$ luit -encoding cp850 -v -v
Warning: couldn't find charset data for locale cp850; using ISO 8859-1.
G0 is ASCII, G1 is Unknown (94), G2 is ISO 8859-1, G3 is Unknown (94).
GL is G0, GR is G2.

If you happen to be running OpenSuSE, that provides a package. On the other extreme (e.g., Ubuntu), configuring the locales is a nuisance, but compiling luit from source is relatively simple.

  • How do I use luit?
    – DrPrItay
    Jan 18, 2017 at 11:42

Bytes are not characters and characters are not bytes. The correspondence between characters and bytes depends on the locale. Under a UTF-8 locale, character &#137; would be represented by two bytes, \xC2\x89 (194 and 137 in decimal); a bare byte with the value \x89 (137 decimal) would be invalid. How to input characters which do not appear on the keyboard depends on the terminal and desktop environment.

If all that you want is to send arbitrary bytes to a program you can use a pipe, for example:

$ echo -ne '\x89' | hexdump -C
00000000  89                                                |.|
  • See printf '\211' as a portable equivalent of your echo -ne '\x89' (which only works for some shells in some environments). Jan 17, 2017 at 16:45
  • Specifically here, 0x89/137 is ë in the IBM850 aka cp850 character set. I don't expect that charset to be in use on any Unix-like system. Jan 17, 2017 at 16:50

ASCII is a 7-bit character encoding. It makes a correspondence between integer values in the range 0–127, and a bunch of characters (not all of them printable). This range does not include 137: there's no such things as an “ascii value of 137”.

It seems that you want to enter the byte whose numerical value is 137, and the program prints that numerical value in hexadecimal. This has nothing whatsoever to do with ASCII, but it does have to do with the encoding used in the terminal. To enter the byte 137, you need to enter a character that is encoded by this byte. Modern systems use UTF-8, where most characters are encoded by multiple bytes. There's no character whose UTF-8 encoding is the byte sequence {137}, or even any character whose encoding begins with this byte value (all multibyte encodings begin with a value above 192). There are characters whose encoding is a two-byte sequence where the second byte is 137, however, such as É = U+00C9, encoded in UTF-8 as {195, 137}.

If you want to be able to send arbitrary byte values by typing them, you'll need to use a unibyte encoding. Pick one that doesn't have unprintable characters (for example, the range 128–159 is unprintable in the latin-1 encoding), such as cp850. See Thomas Dickey's answer for how to use luit for that.

Alternatively, you can enter arbitrary byte value by having the program read from a file that contains them, or by piping them from a program that produces them. For example, in bash, you can write

printf \\211 | ./myprogram            # works in any shell
printf $'\x89' | ./myprogram
./myprogram <<<$'\x89'

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