Wikipedia 10K Redux by Reagle from Starling archive. Bugs abound!!!

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The first letter in the Roman alphabet, derived from the Greek letter [[alpha]] which is pretty much the same in shape and function.  Like other Latin vowels, a came in a long (sounded as in f''a''ther) and a short (sounded as in Din''ah'') variety.  In other languages which use the letter it takes on various other values, notably in English the sound in c''a''t, formerly represented by an a-e ligature called ├Žsc.

On computers the uppercase letter is represented with ASCII code 65 and the lowercase letter with code 97.