The history of the arrob@ sign

The arroba is a symbol that is currently used by billions of people around the world, since it has been adopted by the companies that create the technological and informative tools that have facilitated modern life.

The @ was initially a unit of weight

Initially, this famous symbol was used to represent the unit of weight called arroba. One at is equivalent to 25 pounds; this symbol was created by the Arabs and its translation into Spanish is something like “the fourth part”. The use that has been given in recent decades, made it become an icon of the Internet that is the engine of today’s society.

Francesco Lapi and the first sign

The first @ used in history appears in some ancient documents of an Italian merchant named Francesco Lapi, in the year 1536. The document was discovered by a prestigious professor at the University of Sapienza known as Giorgio Stabile. In the original text the following words can be seen very clearly:

 “One @ of wine, which is 1/13 of a barrel, is worth 70 or 80 ducats.”

This arroba alluded to a quarter of wine. Although at that time, they used it erroneously to refer to liquids. Today, it is only used to measure units of mass.

George Romance’s hypothesis

Scholars of the subject contradicted this theory, as in the case of the historian George Romance, who affirmed that the symbol of the arroba was used for the first time in 1448, in the review of a shipment of wheat in Spain.

Systems engineer Ray Tomlinson adopted the famous symbol in 1971 when he created the email. It was the only symbol available on the keyboard of the desktop computers used at that time and also gave a sense of identity to the creator of the email account.


The history of the arrob@ sign
Source: curiosities  
December 1, 2019

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