Over the weekend, a very important man passed away. Ask yourself where you would be today without the “@” symbol? If you’ve sent an email, personally or professionally, you’ve used that little “@”. If you’ve sent a tweet, you’ve used the ‘@’.
A list I’ve come up with for my use of the ‘@’:
-Without @, my mom would have no idea who I’m tweet-harassing (She got twitter just to “look”, not to tweet).
-Without @, I wouldn’t have come up with my first email address, firstname.lastname@example.org
-Without @, I wouldn’t have as many minutes in a day, since I’m too lazy to type one more letter.
-Without @, Louis C.K. wouldn’t have been able to send out the e-blast to promote his new show, with the following:
“Trump is a messed up guy with a hole in his heart that he tries to fill with money and attention. He can never ever have enough of either and he’ll never stop trying. He’s sick. Which makes him really really interesting. And he pulls you towards him which somehow feels good or fascinatingly bad. He’s not a monster. He’s a sad man. But all this makes him horribly dangerous if he becomes president. Give him another TV show.
Let him pay to put his name on buildings. But please stop voting for him. And please watch Horace and Pete.”
More HERE from The Taz Show, if you’re hungry for the full, open letter.
A little more on Ray Tomlinson, the man who revolutionized the ‘@’ From Time Magazine:
If there’s a single symbol that represents the Internet Age, it’s the “@” sign. The second it makes its appearance in a string of text, our brains instantly recognize there’s something digital at hand, whether it be an email address, Twitter username or chat handle.
But there’s nothing innate about “@” that screams “computer.” In fact, it’s hundreds of years old, provided you believe a researcher who traced it back to 16th century Italian merchants. Then and afterwards, the symbol was largely used to indicate now-obsolete units of weight and other metrics. It was just important enough to appear on typewriters and, later, keyboards.
Then came a man named Ray Tomlinson came along.
Back in 1971, Tomlinson, who died on Saturday, was an engineer at a Boston firm that was experimenting with ARPANET, the forerunner to today’s Internet. His task: Create a way for ARPANET’s users, mostly academics and researchers, to send direct messages to one another, like a form of electronic mail. He soon reached his goal, forever cementing his status as the father of email. (You can either thank or loathe him for his creation, depending on how much of a mess your inbox is.)
But Tomlinson didn’t just create a new communications medium. He also gave a significant gift to our cultural lexicon, rescuing the “@” from disuse.
The story goes like this: While creating that early form of email, Tomlinson needed a way to separate users’ names from the names of their computers. He told NPR in 2009 that the “@” was perfect for two reasons. First, it lacked the baggage of other symbols on the keyboard, all of which carried their own preexisting connotations. Second, it was linguistically logical — typing “Alex at TIME” is a sensible way to fire off a message to somebody named Alex who works at TIME Magazine.
Today, the @ sign is finding renewed life outside of our inboxes. Most famously, Twitter uses it at the beginning of users’ handles, borrowing a convention from other chat software. The booming office communications platform Slack uses it in this way, too. And its significance has been recognized by the design world, with the Museum of Modern Art adding it to its collection back in 2010. It’s doubtful that email will die any time soon. But if it ever does, Tomlinson’s typographic contribution will certainly live on.