Rule at trivia

July 11, 2018

There are times in your life when you just need to flash some useless knowledge.


Maybe you're on a date and you want to say something impressive. Or you need to win a bar bet. Or you find yourself behind a buzzer on Jeopardy ... It's always good to have a couple of random factoids in your back pocket.


Here's one that's guaranteed to edify anyone within earshot:


The official name for the hashtag symbol is not "pound sign," or even "number sign." Are you ready for it? It's OCTOTHORPE.


The symbol has been used to designate weight in pounds since the 1800s, and as an abbreviation for "number" since the invention of the typewriter. It was added to touch-tone phone keypads in the late 1960s but didn't start seeing much use until large-scale voice mail systems were available in the 1980s.


Nobody really knows where the term"octothorpe" came from ... but the rumor is that it was coined by workers at Bell Telephone Laboratories in 1968 who needed to come up with a better name for the glyph.


(Personal note: I first came across this word when I was writing songs for an online contest, and one of the other bands in the running called itself "Octothorpe." When I asked them what it meant, they showed me their kick drum, which had the symbol printed on it. They just thought it was a cool word.)



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