BACK IN THE EARLY DAYS OF COMPUTING, MANY SYSTEMS ONLY SUPPORTED UPPER-CASE LETTERS. AN EXAMPLE OF SUCH A SYSTEM IS THE ORIGINAL APPLE II, ALONG WITH MANY OTHER SMALL MICROS OF THE TIME, AND SYSTEMS THAT WERE CONNECTED TO UPPER-CASE ONLY TELETYPES AND TERMINALS.

THERE WERE A COUPLE OF REASONS FOR UPPER-CASE ONLY SYSTEMS. FIRST OF ALL, TELETYPES COULD BE LESS EXPENSIVE IF THEY SUPPORTED LESS CHARACTERS; LOWER-CASE REQUIRED ANOTHER SHIFT LINE AND TWENTY-SIX MORE PRINTABLE LETTERS. SECOND OF ALL, ROM SPACE WAS EXPENSIVE, SO VIDEO DISPLAY TERMINALS WERE CHEAPER IF THEY DIDN'T HAVE TO ALLOCATE CHARACTER ROM TO THE LOWER-CASE SET.

THESE DAYS, USING ONLY CAPITAL LETTERS RESULTS IN A SOUND THRASHING BY YOUR PEERS; THEY THINK YOU ARE SCREAMING ALL THE TIME. HOWEVER, THIS IS ONLY BECAUSE THEY ARE USED TO SEEING BOTH UPPER- AND LOWER-CASE CHARACTERS. WHEN YOU USED SYSTEMS THAT ONLY DID UPPER-CASE, EVERYTHING LOOKED THE SAME. YOU EVENTUALLY GOT USED TO IT.

TWO THINGS HAPPENED WHEN SUCH A USER MOVED TO A SYSTEM THAT SUPPORTS BOTH CASES; FIRST OF ALL THE USER SUDDENLY THINKS EVERYONE IS WHISPERING BECAUSE THEY WERE USED TO SEEING ONLY UPPER-CASE BEFORE. THE SECOND IS THE USER KEEPS FORGETTING TO CAPITALIZE LETTERS HIMSELF, BECAUSE HE IS NOT YET CONDITIONED TO USE THE SHIFT KEY CONSISTENTLY WHEN TYPING TO A COMPUTER. THIS CONVERSION PERIOD ONLY LASTS A SHORT TIME. WHEN RETURNING TO AN UPPER-CASE ONLY SYSTEM, THE USER THINKS EVERYONE IS SCREAMING AGAIN UNTIL HE GETS USED TO IT.

ANOTHER INTERESTING ARTIFACT IS UPPER-CASE ONLY SYSTEMS THAT MERELY DISPLAY EVERYTHING AS UPPERCASE, BUT SUPPORT BOTH CASES INTERNALLY AND FROM THE KEYBOARD. THE RESULT IS ALL THEIR TEXT APPEARING IN LOWER CASE ON SYSTEMS THAT SUPPORT BOTH CASES. THIS CAN BE EVEN MORE ANNOYING THAN ALL UPPER-CASE, SINCE ALL-CAPS TEXT LOOKS BETTER THAN ALL-LOWER-CASE TEXT.

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