BinHex

What is BinHex?
BinHex is an encoding system used in converting binary data to text and is used by the Macintosh operating system to send binary files via email. The conversion of binary data to ASCII characters is done in order to easily transfer the files from one platform to another, as almost all computers can handle ASCII text files.

BinHex was originally Tim Mann's idea. He wrote it for the TRS-80 as a stand-alone version of a coding system. BinHex is similar to Uuencode (Unix to Unix encode) and is a common format for Macintosh files. BinHex files take up more space than the original format files and are less likely to be corrupted when transferred between older protocols.

A BinHex file generally has a .hqx extension at the end of the file name. Earlier versions had a .hex extension.

This term is also known (referenced) as .hqx.

BinHex generally encodes an 8-bit binary file or 8-bit stream representation into a 7-bit ASCII text format. When a file is sent as an email attachment on a network, the recipient at the other end must decrypt it. A number of decoders are available for decoding BinHex files for Windows and Mac OS. Stuffit Expander is a free and simple application that can decode, encode, compress, and archive files.

BinHex is very useful for Mac OS 9 and earlier versions of Mac OS as it combines both data and forks of a file system and keeps them bundled together while in transit. A BinHex file has a message on the first line that helps identify it as a BinHexed file. To this message consequences 64-character lines that can contain random letters, numbers, and punctuation marks.

BinHex was originally designed to send files through online services like CompuServe used whose pipes were not often 8-bit clean and required a 7-bit stream. This problem was fixed in the mid-1980s when CompuServe added the clean 8-bit file transfer protocols. The use of BinHex was then stopped. However, there were still problems uploading files to CompuServe and the need for BinHex to fix the problem was recognized.

In 1985, Yves Lempereur released BinHex 4.0, which fixed issues such as incompatibility, file corruption, and file corruption. BinHex 4.0 has taken special care in the selection of character mappings in order to avoid characters that have been translated by the email software. It even encoded the file information and protected it with several cyclic redundancy checks. The final .hqx files were more robust and were almost the same size as the .hcx files. Some of the popular web browsers such as Netscape and email applications such as Eudora support BinHex functions for encoding and decoding files.

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