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Origin of the Symbol '@' in an Email ID: Why, When, How?

Life and the internet both are full of various symbols … a symbol is generally an arbitrary sign that has acquired a conventional significance. Symbols are used to express the meaning of any word in an image form.

A symbol signifies the perfect meaning of the word which you want to use. But there are many symbols used in the field of communication which amazes you or shuffles your mind that why are they being used?

One of the most common symbols that are being used by every person of any age is“@”. This symbol is used in your email Id’s and is mostly referred as “at” or “at the rate”.

Do you know that why this @ symbol is being used and why it comes in modern communication: email etc ? How this is evolved?

So let us review the history of the generation of this @ symbol (type: ‘shift + 2’ on your PC)

History of symbol @:

Surprisingly, there is no official, or any universal name for this symbol and it is most commonly referred as “at” sign in this modern world. But do you know where this sign came from?

The history tells us that this symbol was generated by the medieval monastic. It is said that during the Middle Ages when there were no printing presses, each andevery letter was supposed to be transcribed in a very speedy manner. The workers who performed this work were in the search of some keywords that will reduce their work. But the letter “at” was itself very short, but still the monks thought to reduce it so, they looped the “t” around “a” and thus, thesign “@” came into existence.

There is one more tale regarding the evolution of the sign “@”: it was used as a word signified for Amphora. This word was used as a unit of measurement that decidesthe amount held by the Terra cotta jars which are used to ship the grains, spices etc. some traders saw this sign in the a book transcribed by the medieval monks and started using the same.

Why the symbol “@” is used and where?

Well, this symbol is generally and always used in the email (communication). This symbol has become the central part of the Internet as it was chosen to be a separator in email addresses by Ray Tomlinson in 1972.

E-mail (Electronic Mail) has reshaped the face of communication over past few decades. It is becoming a key priority for communication of every user in the very digital age. Thanks to Ray Tomlin son here for great revolutionary outcome of email, that eases the work for every human being, as of the email, a unique communication, our messages are instantly send to the various hosts all over the world.

But the question still remains the samethat why to use this symbol?

Ray Tomlinson discovered that there different hosts can be differentiated usingthis symbol that separates their user name and the machine name (he developed atime-sharing system known as: TENEX).

Previously, before the ‘invention’ of the emails, the “@” sign was just used as a unit of weight in commerce and nowhereelse. It was already on the standards keyboard layout which was easilyaccessible. Thus it was used to separate the mailboxes from the host were themailbox is located. Until 1971, when the actual email was ‘discovered’, themachines could only send the desired messages to the users within its own system.

The popularity of email was boosted after this invention and thus came email became the core technology in this galactic field of Internet communication.

The “@” symbol has quite interesting history but now it is a standard symbol in the Internet media and not at all strange for us. Who cares for @, we just care for our emails without noticing the contribution of @ to our digital lives.

Related: (Do you know): Twitter has such an another symbol for its instant web communication technology, which is known as # (hash tag).

Of interest:

Story of send

Thank you Ms Devashree B. for this nice tip and article!


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