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I want to know that why we use '@' in email addresses.

I think most of the people understand this is so silly question. but I think there is some logic behind this. If somebody having any ideas about this, please tell me.

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migrated from Dec 2 '10 at 2:09

This question came from our site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

Please read this article which throws some light on the origins of email.

Ray Tomlinson, a programmer involved in developing a time-sharing system named the TENEX , was the first person to discover that the various hosts can be differentiated by using the @ sign to separate the user's name and their machine. Until 1971, when the actual "email" was discovered, machines could only send messages to the users within its own system.

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The each at symbol was picked because it wasn't used for much else (before e-mail, it was used to denote that a certain quantity was sold 'each at' a certain price; common in commerce, and almost nowhere else). It was on the standard keyboard layout already and thus easily accessible. So it was picked to separate mailboxes from the host were the mailbox is located.

Keep in mind that before e-mail as we know it, mail was kept in a mailbox 'file' on the local host (frequently time sharing or batch machines, something akin to modern mainframes). There was no protocol for transferring the message to various hosts. The first protocols to implement such functionality transferred messages directly from the sending host to the destination. For a time, some organizations came up with proprietary protocols to transfer mail from one system type to another. It wasn't until much later that the idea of a mail relay system (designed to vaguely mimic the USPS) came about and gained popularity.

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A friend used to say "at the rate of" when dictating email addresses, like "dharris at the rate of my host dot com". It drove me crazy and I made fun of him for the extra syllables. – Doug Harris Dec 2 '10 at 4:27
You should make fun of him even more. The traditional meaning of "@" is "each at", hence the letter "a" within the letter "e". – Chris S Dec 2 '10 at 13:23

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