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(Smithsonian Magazine)   The Accidental History of the @ Symbol   (smithsonianmag.com) divider line 48
    More: Interesting, Museum of Modern Art, Smithsonian magazine, technology and society, telecommunications, history  
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5977 clicks; posted to Geek » on 21 Aug 2012 at 3:28 PM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-08-21 12:37:51 PM
didadadidadit
 
2012-08-21 01:04:28 PM
Huh, that's kinda neat.
 
2012-08-21 01:44:54 PM
I accidentally the whole @ symbol.
 
2012-08-21 01:52:33 PM
One of my aunts (who died recently) used to use @ to mean "about." Apparently that's not entirely uncommon, but it used to confuse the hell out of me.
 
2012-08-21 02:22:08 PM
Well, that got my @tention.

Tomlinson, who still works at BBN, says he doesn't remember what he wrote in that first e-mail.

It probably involved a down-on-his-luck Nigerian prince or an offer to sell himself generic Viagra.
 
2012-08-21 02:59:26 PM

Relatively Obscure: One of my aunts (who died recently) used to use @ to mean "about." Apparently that's not entirely uncommon, but it used to confuse the hell out of me.


Yep. I'm 58, so before PCs. On typewriters, we used @ for "circa" or about.
 
2012-08-21 03:43:27 PM
I write it so that the loop goes clockwise. My error was pointed out to me 3 months ago and I never realized it before, so I guess I made the mistake thousands of times.
 
2012-08-21 03:43:58 PM

simplicimus: Relatively Obscure: One of my aunts (who died recently) used to use @ to mean "about." Apparently that's not entirely uncommon, but it used to confuse the hell out of me.

Yep. I'm 58, so before PCs. On typewriters, we used @ for "circa" or about.


So what did you use the tilde (~) for?
 
2012-08-21 03:45:53 PM

phyrkrakr: simplicimus: Relatively Obscure: One of my aunts (who died recently) used to use @ to mean "about." Apparently that's not entirely uncommon, but it used to confuse the hell out of me.

Yep. I'm 58, so before PCs. On typewriters, we used @ for "circa" or about.

So what did you use the tilde (~) for?


Approximately. "I saw ~15 sheep in the meadow"
.
 
2012-08-21 03:46:05 PM

phyrkrakr: simplicimus: Relatively Obscure: One of my aunts (who died recently) used to use @ to mean "about." Apparently that's not entirely uncommon, but it used to confuse the hell out of me.

Yep. I'm 58, so before PCs. On typewriters, we used @ for "circa" or about.

So what did you use the tilde (~) for?


to open the console of the typewriter.
 
2012-08-21 03:47:26 PM
@ has even been inducted into the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, which cited its modern use as an example of "elegance, economy, intellectual transparency, and a sense of the possible future directions that are embedded in the arts of our time."

It's a farking a in a circle, you pretentious douchenozzle.
 
2012-08-21 03:47:51 PM
@ has even been inducted into the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, which cited its modern use as an example of "elegance, economy, intellectual transparency, and a sense of the possible future directions that are embedded in the arts of our time."

I got to this, remembered why I loathe Smithsonian magazine, and quit reading.
 
2012-08-21 03:50:37 PM

phyrkrakr: simplicimus: Relatively Obscure: One of my aunts (who died recently) used to use @ to mean "about." Apparently that's not entirely uncommon, but it used to confuse the hell out of me.

Yep. I'm 58, so before PCs. On typewriters, we used @ for "circa" or about.

So what did you use the tilde (~) for?


If I remember correctly, we used to backspace and make certain Spanish characters.
 
2012-08-21 03:53:38 PM
i like the history of the ampersand better. From wiki:

Traditionally, in English-speaking schools when reciting the alphabet, any letter that could also be used as a word in itself ("A", "I", and, at one point, "O") was preceded by the Latin expression per se (Latin for "by itself"). Also, it was common practice to add at the end of the alphabet the "&" sign as the 27th letter, pronounced and. Thus, the recitation of the alphabet would end in: "X, Y, Z and per se and". This last phrase was routinely slurred to "ampersand" and the term crept into common English usage by around 1837.[2][3]
 
2012-08-21 03:54:06 PM

simplicimus: phyrkrakr: simplicimus: Relatively Obscure: One of my aunts (who died recently) used to use @ to mean "about." Apparently that's not entirely uncommon, but it used to confuse the hell out of me.

Yep. I'm 58, so before PCs. On typewriters, we used @ for "circa" or about.

So what did you use the tilde (~) for?

If I remember correctly, we used to backspace and make certain Spanish characters.


upload.wikimedia.org

I'm not seeing it.
 
2012-08-21 04:02:54 PM
and & is a combination of 'E' & 't'
 
2012-08-21 04:16:12 PM

Tickle Mittens: and & is a combination of 'E' & 't'


Which is "et", Latin for "and".
 
2012-08-21 04:23:19 PM

simplicimus: Tickle Mittens: and & is a combination of 'E' & 't'

Which is "et", Latin for "and".


used to be the 27th letter of the alphabet. But no one loved it enough.
 
2012-08-21 04:23:54 PM
Am I the only one who thought of this?
 
2012-08-21 04:26:39 PM

wedun: Am I the only one who thought of this?


i.imgur.com
 
2012-08-21 04:45:08 PM
Very nice article. I usually scan them for something snarky to say but that one I made it all the way through.

Congrats to the writer and the submitter for doing something I've not seen on Fark in a while :)
 
2012-08-21 04:46:12 PM
I was wondering where the article was @.
 
2012-08-21 04:49:38 PM
I had a professor who called it a "schwa". Found out years later that a schwa (ə) is not at all the same as at (@), it was just his sloppy handwriting that made them look similar.
 
2012-08-21 04:53:18 PM

simplicimus:
If I remember correctly, we used to backspace and make certain Spanish characters.


Like Zorro or the Frito Bandito?
 
2012-08-21 04:54:51 PM

dittybopper: simplicimus: phyrkrakr: simplicimus: Relatively Obscure: One of my aunts (who died recently) used to use @ to mean "about." Apparently that's not entirely uncommon, but it used to confuse the hell out of me.

Yep. I'm 58, so before PCs. On typewriters, we used @ for "circa" or about.

So what did you use the tilde (~) for?

If I remember correctly, we used to backspace and make certain Spanish characters.

[upload.wikimedia.org image 180x228]

I'm not seeing it.


all i had to do was scroll down two posts to see the gag had already been made. Two posts.
 
2012-08-21 04:59:39 PM

Tickle Mittens: simplicimus: Tickle Mittens: and & is a combination of 'E' & 't'

Which is "et", Latin for "and".

used to be the 27th letter of the alphabet. But no one loved it enough.


I þink we should bring back the letter "þ". I'm tired of writing th.
 
2012-08-21 05:02:12 PM

wedun: wedun: Am I the only one who thought of this?

[i.imgur.com image 311x237]



Is that Rogue?  Totally my favorite video game as a kid.  Had like infinite levels.
 
2012-08-21 05:12:22 PM

To The Escape Zeppelin!: Tickle Mittens: simplicimus: Tickle Mittens: and & is a combination of 'E' & 't'

Which is "et", Latin for "and".

used to be the 27th letter of the alphabet. But no one loved it enough.

I þink we should bring back the letter "þ". I'm tired of writing th.


Well, if you want to bring back Þ, you may as well bring back ð.
 
2012-08-21 05:13:06 PM
"modern art" = the shapes on my keyboard.

TIL
 
2012-08-21 05:22:52 PM

BigLuca: i like the history of the ampersand better. From wiki:

Traditionally, in English-speaking schools when reciting the alphabet, any letter that could also be used as a word in itself ("A", "I", and, at one point, "O") was preceded by the Latin expression per se (Latin for "by itself"). Also, it was common practice to add at the end of the alphabet the "&" sign as the 27th letter, pronounced and. Thus, the recitation of the alphabet would end in: "X, Y, Z and per se and". This last phrase was routinely slurred to "ampersand" and the term crept into common English usage by around 1837.[2][3]


That's awesome! I was just talking to a German friend of mine about English and I really like that it's a "make it up as we go along" kind of language. If you can convince enough people something's a word and they use it, in it goes.
 
2012-08-21 05:40:25 PM

Mawson of the Antarctic: BigLuca: i like the history of the ampersand better. From wiki:

Traditionally, in English-speaking schools when reciting the alphabet, any letter that could also be used as a word in itself ("A", "I", and, at one point, "O") was preceded by the Latin expression per se (Latin for "by itself"). Also, it was common practice to add at the end of the alphabet the "&" sign as the 27th letter, pronounced and. Thus, the recitation of the alphabet would end in: "X, Y, Z and per se and". This last phrase was routinely slurred to "ampersand" and the term crept into common English usage by around 1837.[2][3]

That's awesome! I was just talking to a German friend of mine about English and I really like that it's a "make it up as we go along" kind of language. If you can convince enough people something's a word and they use it, in it goes.


Interesting comparison. In German, they can slam nouns and gerunds together to create a word. In English, we turn nouns into verbs and verbs into nouns.
 
2012-08-21 05:51:26 PM

To The Escape Zeppelin!: Tickle Mittens: simplicimus: Tickle Mittens: and & is a combination of 'E' & 't'

Which is "et", Latin for "and".

used to be the 27th letter of the alphabet. But no one loved it enough.

I þink we should bring back the letter "þ". I'm tired of writing th.


It's interesting how the thorn became a y, something about the y being the most similar thing the printers had, so they wrote "Ye", but robots don't say "ye", because they know the y is meant to be pronounced 'th'. So every written Ye is still really the.
 
2012-08-21 05:56:58 PM

Slaxl: To The Escape Zeppelin!: Tickle Mittens: simplicimus: Tickle Mittens: and & is a combination of 'E' & 't'

Which is "et", Latin for "and".

used to be the 27th letter of the alphabet. But no one loved it enough.

I þink we should bring back the letter "þ". I'm tired of writing th.

It's interesting how the thorn became a y, something about the y being the most similar thing the printers had, so they wrote "Ye", but robots don't say "ye", because they know the y is meant to be pronounced 'th'. So every written Ye is still really the.


Fine, but bring back eta as well.
 
2012-08-21 06:39:08 PM
been used pretty heavy by docs for years...
 
2012-08-21 06:52:41 PM

Mawson of the Antarctic: BigLuca: i like the history of the ampersand better. From wiki:

Traditionally, in English-speaking schools when reciting the alphabet, any letter that could also be used as a word in itself ("A", "I", and, at one point, "O") was preceded by the Latin expression per se (Latin for "by itself"). Also, it was common practice to add at the end of the alphabet the "&" sign as the 27th letter, pronounced and. Thus, the recitation of the alphabet would end in: "X, Y, Z and per se and". This last phrase was routinely slurred to "ampersand" and the term crept into common English usage by around 1837.[2][3]

That's awesome! I was just talking to a German friend of mine about English and I really like that it's a "make it up as we go along" kind of language. If you can convince enough people something's a word and they use it, in it goes.


I agree. It's a perfectly cromulent method for creating sniglets.
 
2012-08-21 08:04:16 PM

downstairs: wedun: wedun: Am I the only one who thought of this?

[i.imgur.com image 311x237]


Is that Rogue?  Totally my favorite video game as a kid.  Had like infinite levels.


I think Nethack, but it's been so long since I've played Rogue, they could be that similar.
 
2012-08-21 08:28:46 PM

gunther_bumpass: dittybopper: simplicimus: phyrkrakr: simplicimus: Relatively Obscure: One of my aunts (who died recently) used to use @ to mean "about." Apparently that's not entirely uncommon, but it used to confuse the hell out of me.

Yep. I'm 58, so before PCs. On typewriters, we used @ for "circa" or about.

So what did you use the tilde (~) for?

If I remember correctly, we used to backspace and make certain Spanish characters.

[upload.wikimedia.org image 180x228]

I'm not seeing it.

all i had to do was scroll down two posts to see the gag had already been made. Two posts.


I'm *THAT* good.
 
2012-08-21 10:56:02 PM

TGWJH: I write it so that the loop goes clockwise. My error was pointed out to me 3 months ago and I never realized it before, so I guess I made the mistake thousands of times.


Whenever I write an ampersand, I write it backwards so that it looks like a treble clef. As a child I'd apparently thought they were the same symbol, and I got used to it that way.
 
2012-08-22 12:22:52 AM
I'm in accordance with those who recall its use to mean "about." When I was little I thought it meant "around" - blindingly obvious to me, anyway. "A" plus "round" circle around the "A."
 
2012-08-22 08:02:38 AM

simplicimus: Fine, but bring back eta as well.


And teach spelling correctors to leave it as "eth", not change it to "eta", right?
 
2012-08-22 09:15:47 AM
Oh, you mean the 'snail' key? Yep. Heard it called that. Yep. I'm old. In fact, it's a couple keys down from the squiggly from what I'm told.
 
2012-08-22 01:41:08 PM

downstairs: Is that Rogue?  Totally my favorite video game as a kid.  Had like infinite levels.


I lost many, many hours to that infernal game...
 
2012-08-22 01:58:48 PM
No love for the octothorpe, let alone the interrobang?
 
2012-08-22 02:52:14 PM

simplicimus: Fine, but bring back eta as well.


vkb.isvg.org
 
2012-08-22 03:17:04 PM

dittybopper: simplicimus: Fine, but bring back eta as well.

[vkb.isvg.org image 470x348]


OK, eth.
 
2012-08-22 04:29:47 PM

aspAddict: downstairs: Is that Rogue?  Totally my favorite video game as a kid.  Had like infinite levels.

I lost many, many hours to that infernal game...



Heh.  I found a free version online just yesterday when it was mentioned.  I now know what it feels like for a heroin addict to fall off the wagon.
 
2012-08-22 08:58:29 PM
I'm glad to know that there was more to the story, and that the actual origin of the symbol is uncertain. It had actually depressed me some time ago when I thought that our culture was so lazy that (no matter how useful it later turned out to be in the Email era) we'd actually come up with an abbreviation for the word "at."
 
2012-08-23 09:00:22 PM

dittybopper: simplicimus: Fine, but bring back eta as well.

[vkb.isvg.org image 470x348]


That looks like the european contingent of the KKK
 
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