Unicode Consortium
Unicode, Inc.
FormationJanuary 3, 1991; 33 years ago (1991-01-03)
Founded atCalifornia, US
TypeNon-profit consortium
Legal status501(c)(3)[1] California nonprofit benefit corporation
Purpose"To develop, extend and promote use of various standards, data, and open source software libraries which specify the representation of text in modern software[,] ... allowing data to be shared across multiple platforms, languages and countries without corruption"[2]
Coordinates37°24′42″N 122°04′15″W / 37.411759°N 122.070958°W / 37.411759; -122.070958
Key people
  • Toral Cowieson (CEO)
  • Mark Davis (CTO & Cofounder; CLDR-TC Chair)
  • Anne Gundelfinger (Vice President and General Counsel)
  • Greg Welch (Vice President of Marketing)
  • Iris Orriss (Treasurer)
  • Ayman Aldahleh (Secretary)[3]
Revenue (2018)
Expenses (2018)$470,257[2]
Employees (2018)
Volunteers (2018)
Websitehome.unicode.org Edit this at Wikidata

The Unicode Consortium (legally Unicode, Inc.) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization incorporated and based in Mountain View, California, U.S.[4] Its primary purpose is to maintain and publish the Unicode Standard which was developed with the intention of replacing existing character encoding schemes which are limited in size and scope, and are incompatible with multilingual environments.

The consortium describes its overall purpose as:

...enabl[ing] people around the world to use computers in any language, by providing freely-available specifications and data to form the foundation for software internationalization in all major operating systems, search engines, applications, and the World Wide Web. An essential part of this purpose is to standardize, maintain, educate and engage academic and scientific communities, and the general public about, make publicly available, promote, and disseminate to the public a standard character encoding that provides for an allocation for more than a million characters.[5]

Unicode's success at unifying character sets has led to its widespread adoption in the internationalization and localization of software.[6] The standard has been implemented in many technologies, including XML, the Java programming language, Swift, and modern operating systems.[7]

Members are usually but not limited to computer software and hardware companies with an interest in text-processing standards,[8] including Adobe, Apple, the Bangladesh Computer Council, Emojipedia, Facebook, Google, IBM, Microsoft, the Omani Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs, Monotype Imaging, Netflix, Salesforce, SAP SE, Tamil Virtual Academy, and the University of California, Berkeley.[9][10][11] Technical decisions relating to the Unicode Standard are made by the Unicode Technical Committee (UTC).[12]


For the history leading up to the Unicode Consortium's foundation, see Unicode § History.

The project to develop a universal character encoding scheme called Unicode was initiated in 1987 by Joe Becker, Lee Collins, and Mark Davis.[13][14] The Unicode Consortium was incorporated in California on January 3, 1991,[15] with the stated aim to develop, extend, and promote the use of the Unicode Standard.[16] Mark Davis was the president of the Unicode Consortium from when the Consortium was incorporated in 1991 until 2023 when he changed roles to CTO.[17]


Our goal is to make sure that all of the text on computers for every language in the world is represented but we get a lot more attention for emojis than for the fact that you can type Chinese on your phone and have it work with another phone.

— Unicode Consortium co-founder and CTO, Mark Davis[18]
Lisa Moore, vice president of the Unicode Consortium, presenting Choijinzhab and Nashunwuritu with copies of the Unicode Standard at a meeting of ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 2 in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia, in 2017

The Unicode Consortium cooperates with many standards development organizations, including ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 2 and W3C.[19] While Unicode is often considered equivalent to ISO/IEC 10646, and the character sets are essentially identical, the Unicode standard imposes additional restrictions on implementations that ISO/IEC 10646 does not.[20] Apart from The Unicode Standard (TUS) and its annexes (UAX), the Unicode Consortium also maintains the CLDR, collaborated with the IETF on IDNA,[21][22] and publishes related standards (UTS), reports (UTR), and utilities.[23][24]

The group selects the emoji icons used by the world's smartphones, based on submissions from individuals and organizations who present their case with evidence for why each one is essential.[18]

Unicode Technical Committee

The Unicode Technical Committee (UTC) meets quarterly to decide whether new characters will be encoded. A quorum of half of the Consortium's full members is required.[25]

As of May 2024, there are nine full members, all of which are tech companies: Adobe, Airbnb, Apple, Google, Meta, Microsoft, Netflix, Salesforce, and Translated.[26]

The UTC accepts documents from any organization or individual, whether they are members of the Unicode Consortium or not.[27][28] The UTC holds its meetings behind closed doors.[29] As of July 2020, the UTC rules on both emoji and script proposals at the same meeting.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic's effect on travel, the meetings, which used to be hosted on the campuses of various tech companies who would open their doors to the Consortium for free, were in 2020 held online via Zoom,[30] although the discussions remain confidential.

The UTC prefers to work by consensus, but on particularly contentious issues, votes may be necessary.[31]: §9  After it meets, the UTC releases a public statement on each proposal it considered.[25] Due to the volume of incoming proposals, various subcommittees, such as the Script Ad Hoc Group and Emoji Subcommittee, exist to submit recommendations to the full UTC en banc.[32][28] The UTC is under no obligation to heed these recommendations,[31]: §1.7  although in practice it usually does.


The Unicode Consortium maintains a History of Unicode Release and Publication Dates.

Publications include:

See also


  1. ^ a b "Tax Exempt Organization Search". Internal Revenue Service. September 6, 2019. Archived from the original on August 9, 2020. Retrieved February 5, 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Form 990: Return of Organization Exempt from Tax Archived February 5, 2020, at the Wayback Machine". Unicode, Inc. Internal Revenue Service. December 31, 2018.
  3. ^ "Unicode Executive Officers". Unicode Consortium. Retrieved February 2, 2023.
  4. ^ Wong, Queenie (February 12, 2016). "Q&A: Mark Davis, president of the Unicode Consortium, on the rise of emojis". The Mercury News. Retrieved April 5, 2018.
  5. ^ "The Unicode Consortium Bylaws" (PDF). November 6, 2015. Retrieved December 6, 2019.
  6. ^ "How will you type the new Rupee symbol?". IBNLive. July 15, 2010. Archived from the original on July 18, 2010.
  7. ^ "Strings and Characters". The Swift Programming Language (Swift 4.1). Apple. Retrieved April 25, 2018.
  8. ^ Sugar, Rachel. "Tacos, dumplings, bagels: the complicated politics of food emoji". Vox. Retrieved October 27, 2018.
  9. ^ "The Unicode Consortium Members". Unicode, Inc. Retrieved October 23, 2021.
  10. ^ Unicode, Inc. (September 15, 2015). "Facebook Joins as Full Member of the Unicode Consortium". The Unicode Blog. Retrieved August 25, 2017.
  11. ^ Pelletiere, Nicole (October 25, 2018). "Emoji contenders for 2019 include mixed-race couples, a sloth and wheelchairs". ABC News. Retrieved October 27, 2018.
  12. ^ McGowan, R. (February 2004). "A Summary of Unicode Consortium Procedures, Policies, Stability, and Public Access". tools.ietf.org. doi:10.17487/RFC3718. Retrieved April 5, 2018.
  13. ^ "History of Unicode : Summary Narrative". Unicode Consortium. Retrieved April 25, 2018.
  14. ^ Yau, John (July 17, 2016). "Better Days". Hyperallergic. Retrieved November 29, 2018.
  15. ^ Roy, Jessica (August 3, 2016). "Apple is replacing the pistol emoji with a squirt gun". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 29, 2018.
  16. ^ "Unicode History Corner". Unicode, Inc. Retrieved August 25, 2017.
  17. ^ "New Unicode Consortium CEO". Unicode Consortium. Retrieved February 2, 2023.
  18. ^ a b NPR Staff (October 25, 2015). "Who Decides Which Emojis Get The Thumbs Up?". NPR. Retrieved February 10, 2019.
  19. ^ "UNICODE - The Unicode Consortium". International Standards Organization. Retrieved July 11, 2020.
  20. ^ Korpela, Jukka K. (June 21, 2006). Unicode Explained. O'Reilly Media, Inc. ISBN 978-0-596-10121-3.
  21. ^ Sikos, Leslie (December 29, 2014). Web Standards: Mastering HTML5, CSS3, and XML. Apress. ISBN 978-1-4842-0883-0.
  22. ^ Kühne, Mirjam (May 7, 2007). "Plenary Report". IETF Journal. Internet Engineering Task Force. Retrieved July 11, 2020.
  23. ^ "Unicode Technical Reports". Unicode, Inc.
  24. ^ "Unicode Utilities: Internationalized Domain Names (IDN)". Unicode, Inc.
  25. ^ a b "Approved Minutes of UTC Meeting 160". Unicode Consortium. October 7, 2019. L2/19-270. Retrieved July 11, 2020.
  26. ^ "Members – Unicode". Unicode Consortium. May 4, 2024. Retrieved May 4, 2024.
  27. ^ "Submitting Character Proposals". Unicode Consortium. April 1, 2016. Retrieved July 11, 2020.
  28. ^ a b Berard, Bethany (September 1, 2018). "I second that emoji: The standards, structures, and social production of emoji". First Monday. doi:10.5210/fm.v23i9.9381. ISSN 1396-0466. S2CID 52157507.
  29. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: de Jong, Mea Dols (May 4, 2020). Beyond the emoji (YouTube video). Deutsche Welle.
  30. ^ "UTC Meeting Information and Minutes". Unicode Consortium. April 24, 2020. Retrieved July 11, 2020. Note: During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic crisis, until further notice, all Unicode Technical Committee meetings are held via video conference. Details for joining the meeting hosted on the Unicode Zoom account are listed on the logistics page for each meeting.
  31. ^ a b "Technical Committee Procedures for the Unicode Consortium". Unicode Consortium. January 23, 2019. Retrieved July 11, 2020.
  32. ^ "Script Ad Hoc Group". Unicode Consortium. Retrieved July 11, 2020.