Though it appears in some web addresses, Twitter is the ampersand’s natural playground on the web. The 140 character limit imposed on tweets often necessitates the use of abbreviations such as “JK” (“just kidding”), “BTW” (“by the way”), or, of course, ‘&’ for “and.” As one user tweeted: “Every time a tweet is 142 characters long, the ampersand high-fives the rest of the symbols and whispers, ‘My time to shine[.] ’”
Twitter’s irreverent chatter is a fitting vehicle for the ampersand: though it is almost two millennia old, and graces such names as Moët & Chandon and Tiffany & Co, the symbol has its roots in distinctly ignoble circumstances. The first recorded ampersand was part of an ancient Roman graffito scratched onto a wall in Pompeii and preserved for posterity by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. What did this ancient Banksy write that necessitated the creation of a new symbol? Nothing more than Et, or “and,” which he wrote so that the two letters touched.
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