The at sign: this little guy almost went the way of the Dodo (extinct!), but is now back in full force and considered an indespensible symbol for communication.
There are a few theories for the shape of the symbol, but no one is really sure why this little "a" got a super curly tail. The at sign first appeared in a letter written by a Florentine merchant in 1536 to indicate units of wine. For a few centuries after its introduction, the at sign continued to be used by merchants and the business world as a shorthand symbol for pricing. Then as technology developed, a key to create "@" was not included because it didn't seem needed, most notably in punch card systems and typewriters.
Then in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1971, Ray Tomlinson of BBN Technologies was looking for a symbol to use to connect computer programers with one another and send messages. He decided on the rarely used "@" and its use in modern communication has been exponentially growing ever since! (For more details on this history of the at sign, the Smithsonian wrote a great article!)
As the need and use for the at sign has grown, it has developed a lot of different, fun and descriptive names across the world. The artist Andres Lozano was commissioned by Viking to create some illustrations based on some of those names - and they are really cool! Check them all out here on Viking's blog!
Imagine Your Own Name for "@"!
Use Andres Lozano's fun illustrations to inspire your kids to create their own designs and names for the at sign! Here's a global dialogue about the at sign started by The Guardian for inspiration. Some incredible creations are sure to manifest. Happy creating!