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You all probably know about Windows' ability to render any character by specifying it's ASCII code using the numpad. To do so, you press and hold the Alt key while sequentially pressing the numbers that make up the ASCII code on the numpad. So if I press and hold Alt, then I press 1 then 2 on the numpad and release Alt, I get male sign (♀).

My question is, what is the defined behaviour for pressing more than one keys at the same time? Because if I try the same thing but instead press 1 and 2 at the same time instead of sequentially, I get a section sign (§). What's up with that?

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Apparently does are called Alt codes. Here's the Wikipedia article, although it isn't very useful and would require cleanup – Xeon06 Aug 30 '11 at 16:54
up vote 3 down vote accepted

You are probably hitting the combination in the wrong order when you hit 1+2 at the same time. It may seem like you hit the two number keys at the same time but really you are hitting one number before the other.

Alt + 2, 1... is §
Alt + 1, 2... is

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How didn't I catch that. Thanks! – Xeon06 Aug 30 '11 at 17:20

You're actually entering Alt-2-1: §. ♀ is the result of Alt-1-2. So nothing's happening because you press them together, the computer's interpreting it as single keypresses in whatever order the keyboard sends them (which happens to be 2-1, probably because of how you type). Also, note that the Alt code system isn't ASCII, instead it allows you to enter Unicode characters (of which there are far more).

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