« Word of the Week: Mumblecore | Main | Names in the News »

August 21, 2007

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

How did that symbol come to be? It was on typewriter keyboards, I know. Did it always stand for "at"? Why did people need to shorten a 2-letter word to a single character?

Kim: Excellent questions, to which it turns out there are no unambiguous answers. This Wikipedia entry http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/At_sign gives several theories, all of them related to commerce. ("@" is sometimes called "commercial at.") One theory proposes that @ evolved from French "à" (which means "at"); see the Wikipedia illustration for a visual representation of that supposed evolution. Another site http://www.atsymbol.com/history.htm traces the use of "@" in email addresses to one Ray Tomlinson, who selected the symbol back in 1972 because it "would never appear in a person's name." (By the way, the domain www.atsymbol.com is for sale.)

And that's all I've been able to come up with.

Interestingly, author Max(x) Barry wrote a character named @ in his book Syrup (Barry always has the greatest character names). See his post on the subject here: http://maxbarry.com/2007/08/18/news.html

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Web Site

Pinterest

  • Pinterest
    Follow Me on Pinterest
My Photo

Your email address:


Powered by FeedBlitz

Bookmark and Share

Categories