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May 4, 1536: C U @ the Piazza

http://www.wired.com/thisdayintech/2009/05/dayintech_0504/

1536: Francesco Lapi, a Florentine merchant, uses the @ symbol while penning a letter. It’s the first recorded use of the “at” sign outside a monastery.

Ubiquitous in today’s internet culture, the “at” sign most likely owes its origin to a monk with writer’s cramp. Before Gutenberg showed up with his printing press, forever changing human communication, the Holy Scriptures were considered among the few written works worth copying for wider distribution.

The texts were transcribed by hand, a laborious process that encouraged typographical shorthand.

The most plausible theory is that the at sign evolved from the grave-accented “a” (à, which is also “at” in Italian). The compressed symbol allowed the transcriber to complete the letter in a single stroke. This is just one of a handful of theories, mind.

Comments

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
substantianigra
May. 5th, 2009 09:56 am (UTC)
15 minute publisher
did you see that new printing press at blackwell's bookshop in london on the news a few days ago.you can request any out of print book in their list of titles or bring your own manuscript in soft copy and 15mins later you hold a hot-off-the press paperback (with a nifty artwork cover)in your hands! interested?
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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