Happy Scribe
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Hey, and welcome to the short stuff, I'm Josh. There's Chuck. Go, go, go, let's go. This is Josh. That's me. And I just did it again. Do you want to start over?

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Sure. All right. Hey, welcome to the short stuff. I'm Josh, there's Chuck, there's Chuck, I did it again. Hey, and welcome to the short stuff.

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I'm Josh. There's Chuck. Let's get started. Perfect.

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No one will ever know. Thank you. So this is put together by our buddy Dave Ru's for HowStuffWorks Dotcom. And this is a great one about the at Symbol. Mm hmm. And I love this stuff. This these are the ones that are those nice little dinner party nuggets that you can whip out in twenty 21.

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Right. When you can eat dinner with humans again. It's not this not obnoxious. It's not one of those. It makes people roll their eyes. It's a little one where people go, oh, that's a really cool little nugget.

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Thank you for that. Give me an example of an obnoxious one.

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Kind of you know what we do. I know what you mean, but like, what is it? Give me an example, because I know what you mean by I can't put my finger on it. Do you have time? I know this is a shortcut. I don't I can't think of a specific example, but it's also in the delivery, too. Yeah, for sure.

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And the one the one way you're guaranteed to be obnoxious is if someone says something kind of cool and you go, well, actually, yes.

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And then say anything else. There's a life lesson from Chuck right there.

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Never say, well, actually to any human.

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So that's true. Or put your glasses up while you're saying that. Right? Right. That's another two word combination. That's awful. Like root canal.

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Yeah, well, actually, well, actually what we're talking about is the symbol. And in America we have the most boring name for symbol that's basically everywhere in the world that has a better name for it than in America. We just called that symbol. It's really functional and functionary, I think. So let's let's go around the world, shall we talk? Let's start off in Germany. Yes.

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If you go to Germany, you would call it the climate Alfa spider monkey.

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Sure. Well, you have to say spider monkey in a German accent to spider monkey. Yeah.

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In Israel, it's called the strudel. Yeah, sure. Because it does kind of look like a strudel. But what about in Hungary? Well, in Hungary, you're going to go with a Kucuk or I don't know if it's a kook. Kucuk Let's go with that.

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It's a worm. Sounds way more Hungarian. What about in Norway?

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Norway. It's a pig's tail, which is a great hall or Gressler.

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Yes. And then it's a ghoul or rose in Turkey. So everywhere and in Spain, it's called in Aruba. And the reason that Spain is worth calling out, it's actually in the title of this HowStuffWorks article from Rue's is because they think that Aruba is actually the oldest name for that symbol that we call the symbol in the entire world.

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That's right. If you go to Spain or any kind of Spanish speaking country now and you go to a market, let's say you will see this sign called the Aruba. And it is depending on where you are, what Spanish speaking country you're in, it is it's a quantity.

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So if you go to Bolivia, let's say, and you want potatoes, you could get one aroma of potatoes. It's about a bushel or an aroma of oil is about three gallons.

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OK, so now that you know that you can translate in Aruba into absolutely anything you find in the market, right? I guess.

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No, no, the answer is no, because for some weird reason, in Aruba, olive oil is about three gallons or so between three leaders. In Aruba, wine is over four gallons. It's fifteen point one. This makes zero sense at all.

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Yeah, I think you just have to know what product you're getting, what an aroma is equivalent to. Yes, you do.

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And that's weird because measurements are meant to standardize things and you standardize liquid or you standardize mass. But the Spanish said, no, we're not doing that. We're going our own way. Why don't you just have some of our delightful topics and stop complaining?

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That's right. But Roose dove in and got his hands on a book from Keith Houston or Houston, Shady Characters Colon, the secret life of punctuation, symbols and other typographical marks. And in that is a two part history of that symbol where Mr. Houston or Houston not sure which one it is.

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I'm going to Houston. I think George is the only place in the world that pronounces that house then. Really? Oh, wait, no. That's what they call that street in New York, too, don't they?

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Houston Street. And you say Houston Street in New York. They're like, get a rope.

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Hey, is that at the corner of Houston and Avenue of the Americas? And, you know, I was referencing the famous piece McKenty commercial. Oh, yeah, New York City, get a rope. So anyway, Greeks and Romans, Mr. Halston points out, what were the first people that were trading these commodities in markets and using something called amphora as the measurement? It was this ceramic sort of longneck ceramic jar that was who handles. Yeah.

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With the two handles called m sorry amphorae. Yeah. That's plural. Right.

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And I was about seven gallons. So that was Greece and Rome. Then the Spanish and Portuguese picked it up for their commodities, but they called it the aroma.

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They did, but not at first. Apparently aroma comes from the Arabic for Al Reub, which means one fourth or a quarter. And the ancient Portuguese and Spanish traders worked pretty closely with some of the Moors who lived in the area as well and actually ran the place for about seven hundred years or more. Get it or more?

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Mm hmm. And so the that Arabic rubbed off and rub rubbed off on to the Spanish and Portuguese. I don't know where all this wordplay is coming from. It's making me panic a little bit. But the point is, is in Aruba did not necessarily stand in for amphorae. It meant a quarter of something or about 25 pounds, and then eventually it somehow made the switch over to be the same thing is in Amphora, which again, is that vessel that's used for storage, but also a unit of measurement, usually a liquid measurement.

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And some researcher figured out that somewhere between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance amphora and Aruba became synonymous with one another. That's right.

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And we're going to take a little break and we'll tell you what all of this has to do with that symbol right after this.

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All righty, so we've been talking a lot about these words that are units of measurement.

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But what is this all got to do with that sign, what we call the hat sign?

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An Italian historian found this out in 2000, a man named Giorgio's Stube. He's a professor of history and science or history of science at La Sapienza University in Rome.

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And he found a letter from 15 36 that showed that symbol is used as a shorthand for amphorae. Mm hmm. Yes, there it is. The first one, the guy who wrote the article wrote the letter back in 1036 Francesco Luppi. He was describing an emperor of wine. But rather than use the word amphora, he used that symbol. And it's like you're saying, as far as anybody can tell, that's it. That's the first use of that ever.

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And then the fact that in Spain that this was the same thing as amphora, it shows that since we know that Amphora and Araba were became interchangeable and that we know that Roba is the oldest known descriptor of what we call the symbol here in the States.

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That's right. And then here in the states and we're getting to how it became like a Twitter handle.

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Yeah, just wait, everybody.

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We'll get to it in part three of this episode.

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This is sort of a long one for Shortie, but that's right up here in the States, it became known as just shorthand for at the rate of something. So if you were if you worked at a warehouse or whatever and you were filling out your order form, you would say, I need 100 tons of of whatever at this price per ton.

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And you would use that little at Symbol and they'll say, nice try.

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We'll be telling you what price you're going to be paying. And that's sort of the way it was used in America and our commerce. It was just like this is at the rate of this.

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And that's what this little symbol means. And I mean, that's basically what it's always meant in English, at least, or in the United States. And it still, as you said. Yeah, for sure. For sure. We never used it to equate amphorae or any kind of unit of measurement. It was just, like you said, at the rate of um. But we typically tend to think of the symbol as a as a keyboard key, but it didn't make it onto keyboards, at least in the form of typewriters until I think the brown the turn of the 19th century.

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And typewriters have been around for a while before them, but they were not like the kind of keyboards that we understand now. They only had the letters or the numbers, two through nine on them, all the letters of the alphabet. So they didn't have any room for any kind of fancy symbol or anything like that.

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Yeah, the dollar sign in the at symbol came about, like you said, the end of the 19th century. Mm hmm. And then in the 1950s, that sign was made arrows added to the binary code at decimal interchange code, the B, C, D, I, c, which were these forty eight characters that were printed on those punch cards as early computer punch cards.

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Yeah, they used the word code twice in that and binary coded decimal interchange code.

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So, so kind of made its entry into computing all the way back in the 50s. And then by 1961 IBM used it in its programming code and its one of its early supercomputers to stretch. So from that moment on, the sign is always kind of been there hanging around. But it wasn't until 1971 when a guy named Ray Tomlinson, who was working with the Advanced Research Projects Agency, first stab at what would become the Internet ARPANET, that it became the symbol that we know and love today, which is the thing, the fulcrum that an email address moves up and down on.

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Oh, man, I love that word. Up and down on me on Fulcrum, Fulcrum is pretty great, so great, so his job there was to write programs that we're going to run on this ARPANET network and he was connecting 19 computers in 1971. And the electronic mail at the time was it was very cute. It was basically a message that you could save on a computer and then opened later by a different person. But on that same computer, no one was sending anything at the time.

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It was like a digital Post-it base. Yeah, exactly. It would have probably been more efficient to just leave a post.

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It was. But they were trying to electrify or I guess digitize everything.

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Right. It's electrifying. So he said, you know what?

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What would be really cool is if I could take this little digital Post-it note and actually send it across the room to that computer that I'm connected to. How can I do this?

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So, yeah, he figured out that there was a I don't know of an easy way to do it is the right way to put it. But one of the things that he had to to establish was how to identify one computer from another.

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As far as, you know, the protocol was concerned. And so he came up with email addresses, basically what we would call email addresses today. And he inserted the add symbol basically for a couple of reasons. One, it already made sense as at because it was at the rate of. So that's right there in the in the thing the symbol stands for. It's not like some big stretch of the imagination when you see that.

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Yeah, he just meant this this computer to go to that one@ at that one over there, this user at this computer or something like that. And so the other thing was that it hadn't really been used in any of the coding language that ARPANET was was based on. So it was kind of like a free symbol just hanging out there. And that's how it got drafted into becoming one of the most most used symbols in computer programming today.

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Yeah, he sent that very first test message to what we think is the very first email address. Thomlinson at and dash to Nekesa. Full stop. You're waiting for something, but right, the EU. Yeah, they didn't need it at the time, I guess. No. So that's I mean, that's how the ad symbol became so great. So, so great. I love it. And I guess since Chuck said I love it, that's it for short stuff, which means short stuff is out.

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