When I was growing up # was pound, not hashtag

Good thing it changed, since “pound metoo” would’ve been sending the wrong message

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I was always a “number sign” person.


Telephone prompts still tell you to press the pound sign.


It’s called an octothorpe.


Finally a sharp joke. P.S. I’m a musician so I always see the pound symbol as a sharp sign.


There’s a great story about where the name “octotherpe” (not octothorpe) came about. IIRC, when the Bell Laboratories were standardising the touchtype phone keypad, the additional buttons were a star and a diamond symbol. However, one of the staff made a big push for the symbols to be ASCII characters, for which the diamond didn’t have a direct analogue. They decided on the hash symbol, as the negative space in the centre makes a diamond (as it leans slightly to the right, it’s not square). This was a new change, and so it appeared in many of the memos and meetings and whatnot. Two colleagues decided to play a prank on one of the upper staff members, who either had a slight lisp or perhaps’s first language didn’t have a TH sound in it (a classic shibboleth!) and started to spread in official documents that the symbol’s official name was their new made up word “octotherpe”. Apparently it worked, and they got a small laugh each time he had to read out the word in meetings.