From TechCrunch on August 24, 2012:
The Internet doesn’t like me — or, at least, it doesn’t care much for my name. My first name consists of two words and I have accent marks in both my first and last names, which seems to complicate my online life considerably. When trying to purchase an airline ticket or sign up for an email newsletter, I’m never completely certain whether it will go through, or how my name will come out of the transaction, but I’m usually pretty sure it won’t be right.
Turns out it’s not me. Rather it’s the archaic remnants of how computers came to be programmed in the U.S. during the mid-twentieth century. When standards for exchanging data between computers such as ASCII were created, the workforce consisted mostly of white males. They created programs still widely used today recognizing certain symbols and names — accent marks are not typically among them.
“There is no good standard for representing names on the Internet. It’s almost a vestigial remnant of our programatic past; programs were highly limited to things that were in use in America on typewriters,” said Dan Lynn, CTO of FullContact, a cloud address book and contact management provider.
In other words, Lynn said, there were no accents because the creators of these systems didn’t see a need for them. Nowadays, programs that don’t recognize accents or two-word names are in use by choice. Supporting multiple character sets may be more costly, because you have to support that input with databases, but ultimately Lynn said the internationalization of characters is on the rise.
Read more here.