Fun_People Archive
25 Oct
At Etymology

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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Fri, 25 Oct 96 15:21:35 -0700
To: Fun_People
Subject: At Etymology

Forwarded-by: Larry Yaeger <>
Forwarded-by: Stephan Somogyi <>
From: Earle  Jones <>

The "at" sign, as it is known in the US, has other names in other countries.
That little "a" with a circle around it has a history!

Made famous by Ray Tomlinson, a researcher at BBN in Boston who, in 1971,
selected this sign as the separator between an email name and email location.
Since that time, it has become our standard.

Today's San Francisco Chronicle (Oct. 23, 1996--page B1) reports the story
of the beginnings of email and where the "@" sign came from.
[Not to imply that the "@" sign was there from the beginning, I hope... -psl]

Included in the article is a list of names for the sign in other languages:

Italian:      *chiocciolina*    =  little snail
French:       *petit escargot*  =  little snail
German:       *klammeraffe*     =  spider monkey
Netherlands:  *api*             =  short for apestaart (monkey's tail)
Norweigian:   *kanel-bolle*     =  spiral-shaped cinnamon cake
Danish:       *snabel*          =  an "A" with a trunk
Israeli:      *shtrudel*        =  a pastry
Finnish:      *miau*            =  cat tail
Spanish:      *un arroba*       =  a unit of about 25 pounds

(source:  gathered by Ray Tomlinson)

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