Re: Sounds like a good idea
The origiinal Baudot code was 5 bits. It used a shift character to switch betwen letters and numbers, a bit like how we switch keyboards on a phone.
Fitting shorter variables into a longer space would be done using bit fields these days. Some types of processors have bit manipulation instructions which the compiler's code generator can take advantage of.. (Cue discussion of the merits of bit fields -- for the record, I don't like them but then I didn't write all the code I've worked on.)