Ray Tomlinson, the software engineer who propelled the the @-symbol from obscurity to ubiquity when he chose it for use in email addresses, has been named as one of the inaugural inductees of the Internet Hall of Fame. Mr Tomlinson is in good company: ex-Vice President Al Gore, honoured for his work in promoting Internet access, is among the first round of inductees, as is Vint Cerf, the co-creator of TCP/IP and, by extension, the modern Internet itself. It’s been a long time since Mr Tomlinson first sent an email to himself @ another computer, but I’m sure it’s been worth the wait.
In other @-symbol–related news, I came across this custom-made @-symbol ornament recently. The post in which it is mentioned is a year or so old, but it seemed appropriate to point it out in honour of Ray Tomlinson’s award!
I’ve mentioned the obelus, or division symbol (÷), once before on Shady Characters. Unfortunately, I can’t go into it in much detail (I’m keeping my powder dry for a chapter of the book in which I’ll be looking at the obelus and its partner in crime, the asterisk), but Drew Mackie has taken a look at the word and its associated symbol over on his blog Back of the Cereal Box. His series of posts on “strange and wonderful words” is well worth a look.
The novelist Will Self once declared that “[t]he colon is an umlaut waiting to jump”, and in the most tenuous of links, I’ve decided to use this as an excuse to feature a recent New Yorker blog article on the ‘diaeresis’, the umlaut-like pair of dots used to separate a double vowel into two syllables. The typical word processor will insert a diaeresis into “naïve” but leave “coördinate” sadly bereft, and the average English language computer keyboard is not over-stuffed with keys to reinstate it. The New Yorker, though, is rightly famed for its use of this mark where most other publications (and dictionaries) have long since abandoned it, and I for one hope that one day it can regain its preëminence.