Unicode is a computing industry standard for the consistent encoding, representation and handling of text expressed in most of the world's writing systems. Developed in conjunction with the Universal Character Set (Wikipedia page ) standard and published in book form as The Unicode Standard, the latest version of Unicode contains a repertoire of more than 110,000 characters covering 100 scripts.
The origins of Unicode date to 1987, when Joe Becker from Xerox and Lee Collins and Mark Davis from Apple started investigating the practicalities of creating a universal character set
More information on the Wikipedia page 
The Unicode Consortium website is .