of octothorps and at signs

Subject: of octothorps and at signs
From: Sue MacIntosh <sue -at- PAGES -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 10 May 1995 10:43:55 -0700

Hi everyone,

Vince wrote:
>This thread reminds me of the time the Bell System tried to name the

>pound sign (#) an "octothorp" or something like that.

Doug wrote:
>Avoid the fancy name, if there is one. I have been completely

>perplexed by instructions for a telephone that told me to press the

>octothorpe button.

>Or have you ever been told to enter a virgule?

>Octothorpe = pound key (#)
>Virgule = forward slask (/)

After not finding octothorp in my Webster's dictionary, I looked
elsewhere. According to "Mark My Words: Instruction and Practice in
Proofreading," by Peggy Smith of Editorial Experts, the symbol # is
called an octothorp, space sign, or grating.

So here's the question: how did the octothorp become more commonly
known as the pound sign?

And just to make things even more interesting, one of the
typographers that I work with said he had heard the at-sign referred
to as the "apiece" sign.

Any comments?


Susan M. MacIntosh
Technical Documentation and Training
Pages Software Inc
San Diego, CA
sue -at- pages -dot- com

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