Inside/Out (MoMA) • March 22, 2010
History lesson. The “@” is ubiquitous in today’s digital environment, but did you ever wonder about its origins? Read on for a quick history of where the symbol came from, how it was selected for use in e-mail addresses and how it’s viewed in other countries.
I enjoyed this a lot. Other notices of this move on the part of MOMA focused on the slightly wacky (to me) notion that you can add to a “collection” without taking possession. But this is a fun history that reminded me of a discussion we had some time ago about the name of this symbol—#. Is it the pound sign, the hash mark, the number sign or the octothorpe? That last has a rich and uncertain history. Some links led me to this old news group exchange between telephone engineers now archived by MIT. It’s worth a look to see the early (ca. 1988) e-mail strings with some of the engineers involved in the supposed naming weighing in.
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Jim coordinates the OCLC Research office in San Mateo, CA, focuses on relationships with research libraries and work that renovates the library value proposition in the current information environment.