Monday, May 29, 2023
HomeTech ExplainedWhat is an At Sign (@)?

What is an At Sign (@)?

On the Internet, @ (pronounced “at” or “address sign” or “address sign”) is the symbol in an email address that separates the user’s name from the user’s Internet address, as in this hypothetical Email address example: [email protected].

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In business, @ is a symbol that means “at” or “each.” For example, it means “each” in “4 apples @ $.35 = $1.40.” Perhaps because it was one of the standard characters designed on typewriters (usually with the upper shift key pressed), @ was chosen to be included as one of the special characters in the ASCII character set that became standard for computer keyboards, programs, and online messaging. In July 1972, while the File Transfer Protocol (FTP) specifications were being written, someone suggested including some email programs written by Ray Tomlinson, an engineer at Bolt Beranek and Newman, prime contractor for ARPANet. Projects Agency Network), the forerunner of the Internet.

Tomlinson…became best known for a brilliant (he called it obvious) decision he made while writing shows. He needed a way to separate, in the email address, the user's name from the machine the user was on. How should that be indicated? He wanted a character that would not, under any circumstances, be found in the username. He looked at the keyboard he used, a model 33 teletype, also used by almost everyone on the net. In addition to letters and numbers, there were a dozen punctuation marks. "I got there first, so I was able to choose whatever punctuation marks I wanted," Tomlinson said. "I chose the @ sign." The character also had the advantage of meaning "in" the designated institution. He had no idea that he was creating an icon for the connected world.
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George Philip
George Philip
George is a tech-savvy professional and enthusiast. He writes content that gives you the insights and information you need to understand how tech is impacting your life, workplace, and world. You may contact him via his email - [email protected]


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