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Know Where You’re @

​Ever look at a symbol on your American standard keyboard and wonder the functionality of each one? The @ key has been on of some controversy lately. Some would like to see it as its own key, no longer requiring the combination of keys to access the usage. While the controversy is a little bit absurd I understand the argument, but like anything its best to understand the history of the symbol before passing judgment!

Ever look at a symbol on your American standard keyboard and wonder the functionality of each one? The @ key has been on of some controversy lately. Some would like to see it as its own key, no longer requiring the combination of keys to access the usage. While the controversy is a little bit absurd I understand the argument, but like anything its best to understand the history of the symbol before passing judgment!

The @ key has had a verity of different uses through its existence. It is said it originated with the Medieval Monks abbreviating the Latin word ad which meant “at, toward by and about.” They did this to save on ink and expensive writing material. The @ symbol (At Sign / Commercial At) in more modern times was used as an accounting and commercial invoice abbreviation meaning to signify “at a rate of”. However it was never used in financial documents. It was later was intergraded into typewriters early 1900’s.

Over the last twenty years this symbol has taken on a different form, being used for E Mail signifying “located at” or “directed at” (i.e. johndoe@aol.com). Today it is on every modern keyboard (Shift + 2). While today’s modern usage has taken a completely different form with the introduction of social media platforms Facebook and Twitter showing yet another life for this symbol using the symbol to signify groups or people (i.e. @NHL).

With the usage of @ currently becoming so common and intergraded into everyday use, some are complaining to press two keys to produce the symbol. When I text on my iPhone the @ symbol is its own button. Now with the use of has tags (# for twitter) and plus signs (+ for google+) in social media each requiring two keys to type is it necessary to revamp a keyboard that has served us for over 100 years for something that could be a fading trend in time?

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