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OCTOTHORP

Posted by Bob on September 13, 2000

In Reply to: OCTOTHORP posted by Barney on September 13, 2000

: : Here's something interesting. But, why do we now call it the "pound" sign.
: :
: : OCTOTHORP
: : (AHK-tuh-thorp)
: : (n.) The "pound" sign, "number sign," or "tictactoe sign"

: : Also spelled "octothorpe," this name for the "#" symbol dates from the 1960s. The story goes that it was coined by employee at Bell Labs after the telephone company introduced the # key on then-new
: : touch-tone phone systems. When instructing their first new client in the use of the new system, employee Don Macpherson supposedly dubbed that particular key the "octothorp." He chose "octo-" because of the
: : symbol's eight points, and added "thorpe" because at the time he belonged to a group trying to get the Olympic medals of the athlete Jim Thorpe returned from Sweden.

: : That's the story, anyway. But lacking firmer proof, the few dictionaries that even include this word fudge the issue, noting that its origin is "unknown." Another suggested origin involves the fact
: : that "thorpe" is Old Norse for "farm" or "village": Some have suggested that octothorpe is so named because the # resembles eight fields around a village. Suffice to say, it's not often that you hear "Please enter your password, followed by the 'octothorp'."

: Well, nobody in the UK calls the '#' a 'Pound sign'. The pound - UK sterling; not the 'lb' type of pound - has it's own symbol which has remained the same for a good few years now (certainly pre-dates 1960) and seems fairly widely accepted. Sorry I can't be of more help.

Assuming the # sign does appear on UK telephones, what do you call it?