dread high-bit disease
n. A condition endemic to PRIME (a.k.a.
PR1ME) minicomputers that results in all the characters having
their high (0x80) bit ON rather than OFF. This of course makes
transporting files to other systems much more difficult, not to
mention talking to true 8-bit devices. Folklore had it that PRIME
adopted the reversed-8-bit convention in order to save 25 cents per
serial line per machine; PRIME old-timers, on the other hand, claim
they inherited the disease from Honeywell via customer NASA's
compatibility requirements and struggled manfully to cure it.
Whoever was responsible, this probably qualifies as one of the
design tradeoffs ever made. See meta bit
A few other machines have exhibited similar brain damage.