Today at Lyreco we are celebrating the eleventh birthday of the hashtag. Most of us know it from social media and the telephone system but it goes back much farther than that.
The symbol originates from Roman times when it signified the term for a pound in weight, a libro pondo. By the late 14th century, it had been abbreviated to lb and it evolved over the years through handwritten versions to eventually be marked as #.
The # has also been used as a pig pen cypher (aka the masonic cypher used by the Freemasons), a Napoleonic cypher, in the game noughts and crosses, and even on the delectable waffle.
In the 1950s, Bell Labs introduced the dual-tone telephone that used buttons instead of dials. By 1968, the extra buttons were fully functional and carried symbols – one of which was the # sign.
Another term for the hashtag symbol is octothorpe (or octothorp). It is believed that Bell Labs supervisor, Don McPherson, came up with the name octothorpe by combining octo for the eight end points of the symbol with the surname of Jim Thorpe – the first Native American to win a gold medal at the Olympics, and one of the greatest athletes of his era.
Fast forward to 23rd August, 2007 and Chris Messina, a social technology expert, tweeted: ?how do you feel about using a # (pound) for groups? As in #barcamp [msg]??. He had created the first hashtag, #barcamp. Messina came up with the hashtag to gather discussions and online exchanges about Barcamp, Barcamp is an international network of user-generated conferences primarily focused around technology and the web.
Apparently, the Twitter founder Evan Williams, shared with Messina that he didn’t think that hashtags were going to be very popular because of their technical approach. Enough said! As we know, hashtags have spread from Twitter to other social media sites and across the internet to become one of the most widely used functions.
It has been rumoured that Twitter has considered dropping the hashtag to simplify the user experience for new users, but it’s still going strong. A recent example is the #MeToo movement that generated over 1.7m tweets in 85 countries.
Today, hashtags are created by social media experts, educators, institutions and companies from all around the world to bring in more followers and increase brand recognition.
Keep your eyes peeled for some exciting Lyreco hashtags coming very soon across social media. We’ve got a lot planned!
And with that we say happy birthday hashtag and thank you Chris Messina.