ASCII art is a graphic design technique which uses PCs for presentation and consists of pictures pieced together from the 95 printable characters defined by the ASCII Standard. The term is also loosely used to refer to text based visual art in general. ASCII art can be created with any text editor, and is often used with free-form languages. Most examples of ASCII art require a fixed-width font (non-proportional fonts, as on a traditional typewriter) such as Courier for presentation.
The widespread usage of ASCII art can be traced to the computer bulletin board systems of the late 1970s and early 1980s. The limitations of computers of that time period necessitated the use of text characters to represent images.
During the 1990s, graphical browsing and variable-width fonts became increasingly popular, leading to a decline in ASCII art. Despite this, ASCII art continued to survive through IRC, Email, message boards and other forms of online communication which commonly employ the needed fixed-width.