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第一封电子邮件和“@”符号的来源 – 译学馆
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The First Email and the Origin of the @ Symbol

大家好 我是Daven Hiskey 您正在收看的是youtube今日发现频道
Hello I’m Daven Hiskey, you’re watching the Today I Found Out YouTube channel.
今天的视频里 我们将会探寻@符号的出处
In the video today, we’re looking at where the at symbol came from and how it was decided
to use it in email.
今天@随处可见 但是在被用于邮件地址之前 @符号其实并不流行
Ubiquitous today, until its use in email addresses, the @ symbol was never really all that popular,
事实上 这正是它被首先选择用在电子邮件地址
with this very fact being one of the reasons it was chosen to be used in electronic message
addresses in the first place.
So where did the @ symbol come from?
已知最早使用 @的记录可追溯到1345年
The earliest known example of @ is found in the 1345 Bulgarian translation of the 12th
12世纪作品《默纳纪事》的保加利亚语翻译版 这部作品简要地介绍了11世纪以前
century Manasses Chronicle, which gives a brief synopsis of the history of the world
up to the end of the 11th century.
在这部译本里 @被用来表示“阿门”
In it, @ was used as the symbol for “amin” (amen).
No (presently) known surviving instance of @ occurred again for a little over two centuries.
早期另一次使用@符号似乎是一个独立的发明 这次原始的@
Seemingly independently “invented,” yet another early example, this time of a proto-@
在1448年的西班牙登记册《Taula de Ariza》中出现 记载了从卡斯蒂利亚到阿拉贡的一批小麦
(with just the outside swoosh, but lacking a defined center a), was used on a 1448 Spanish
并且它只有外面的旋风符号 没有中间字母a
registry, Taula de Ariza, referencing a shipment of wheat from Castile to Aragon.
The earliest example of a full @ used in such a commercial setting was discovered in 2000
这封信由佛罗伦萨商人Francesco Lapi写于1536年5月4日
in a letter written by a Florentine merchant, Francesco Lapi, on May 4, 1536.
在这封信中 Lapi使用@来表示一个测量单位 即一陶罐的葡萄酒
In this letter, Lapi used @ to denote a unit of measure – an amphora (clay jar) of wine,
which is equivalent to about 1/13th of a barrel.
据这封信的发现者 罗马萨皮恩扎大学的乔治·斯塔比尔教授说
According to professor Giorgio Stabile of Sapienza University of Rome, the discoverer
用a代表来amphora 这种写法的盛行只是
of the letter in question, the flourish around the a for amphora was just one of many examples
of such embellishment of script found in Florence at the time.
从这本书中 斯比尔博士得出结论:是意大利商人普及了@符号
From here, Dr. Stabile theorized it was Italian merchants who popularized the symbol, with
it traveling along with traded goods invoices and receipts throughout Europe.
However, whether it really was the Italians who popularized the symbol isn’t clear.
例如 也是在16世纪 @符号在西班牙的发展已经超出了
For instance, also during the 16th century the @ symbol in Spain had progressed beyond
前述的原型@用法而进入一个非常成熟的阶段 它用作被称为阿罗瓦的测量单位的简写
the aforementioned 1448 proto-@ into the fully developed one, being used as the shorthand
symbol for the unit of measure called an arroba, then equivalent to about 25 pounds or 11.3 kg.
普遍认为arroba一词来源于阿拉伯语 发音为 ar-rub
(The arroba is generally thought to have derived from the Arabic ????? pronounced ar-rub, which
meant “a quarter.”)
无论怎样 从这里@演化出了商业上的用法:以……的价格
Whatever the case, from here @ evolved to mean in a commercial setting “at the price
例如 26袋面粉 @ $1(本次交易一共需要$26)
of”- i.e. 26 bags of flour @ $1 (so a total of $26 for the purchase).
@符号也偶尔会用在其他地方 比如早在17世纪
The symbol was also occasionally used in other contexts, such as used to signify the French
à at least as early as the 17th century.
值得注意的是 在发现1345年和1536年两个使用案例之前
It should be noted here that before the discovery of the 1345 and 1536 instances, it was generally
普遍认为(现在许多人仍这样认为 其中包括牛津英语词典)是中世纪的僧侣
thought (and many still posit, including the Oxford English Dictionary) that medieval monks
发明了@符号 它被用在拉丁语广告中
were the ones that invented the symbol to use in place of the Latin ad, which meant
表示单词 at toward by以及about
at, toward, by and about.
先前的例子中 均缺少有力的文献证明
Lacking in any hard documented evidence pre-dating the preceding instances, the idea behind this
这种理论认为@把两个字母(一个是a 另一个是d的古老形式∂)
theory is that the simple expedient of combining the two letters (essentially an a with the
简单的组合成单个字母 这种简写可以节省时间和材料
older ∂ form of the letter d) into a single, smaller mark would have saved time and materials
因为在当时那个历史时期 每一本书的所有副本都是手抄的
during a period in history where every copy of every book had to be written out by hand.
Many other such shorthand symbols were created for just this reason.
例如&符号是拉丁语“et”的简写 表示 and(和)
For instance, the ampersand (&) is shorthand for the Latin “et,” meaning “and.”
另一个经典的简写是代表 “Christ(基督)”的X符号
Another such classic shorthand was using “X” for “Christ.”
这个例子中 X实际上表示希腊字母 “Chi” 它是希腊语中一种简写
The “X” in this case is actually the Greek letter “Chi,” which is short for the Greek,
meaning “Christ”.
Scholars began using this particular shorthand about a millennium ago.
在几百年的时间里 @所有的用法都是不明确的
In any event, the @ symbol labored in relative obscurity for several hundred years until
one fateful day in 1971.
在那一年 工程师雷·汤姆林森自己实现了一个被称为SNDMSG的
In that year, engineer Ray Tomlinson was implementing his own version of a little program called
SNGMSG运行在TENEX操作系统上 它实质上只是
SNDMSG ran on the TENEX operating system and was, essentially, just one of many flavors
许多单机电子邮件程序之一 换句话说
of single-computer email- in other words, an electronic mail system only capable of
sending messages from one user to another on the same computer.
从今天人们使用电脑的方式来看 这似乎很荒谬
While this might seem absurdly useless given the way people often use computers today,
但是在那时 这样的程序已经带来了无法想象的便利之处
back then programs like this were incredibly handy.
例如 AUTODIN系统建于20世纪60年代 具有在不同用户之间发送信息的功能
For instance, the AUTODIN system created in the early 1960s had a facility for sending
messages between users and, at its peak, handled nearly 30 million electronic messages per month.
MIT兼容的的分时操作系统(CTSS)也是建于20世纪60年代 它有一个相似功能
MIT’s Compatible Time-Sharing System (CTSS), also created in the 1960s, had a similar system
that allowed its numerous users to login from some terminal and, among other things, exchange
messages stored on this single machine.
Tomlinson thought it would be interesting to improve SNDMSG such that it could not only
be used for sending messages to other users who could login to the same machine, but also
be used to send messages from one computer to another via the budding ARPANET.
Tomlinson stated he just thought this tweak to SNDMSG “seemed like a neat idea.
There was no directive to ‘go forth and invent email’.
The ARPANET was a solution looking for a problem.
A colleague (Jerry Burchfiel) suggested that I not tell my boss what I had done because
email wasn’t in our statement of work.
这当然是一个玩笑 因为毕竟我们是在调查使用
That was really said in jest because we were, after all, investigating ways in which to
use the ARPANET.”
在为这个程序编写代码的过程中 汤姆林森必须要决定信息如何通过网络
While writing the code for this, Tomlinson had to decide how to designate that a message
发送到另一台计算机 而不是在本地账户之间发送
should be sent to another computer on the network, rather than a local account.
他最终决定使用@符号 @之所以首次出现在标准键盘上
He fatefully settled on @, a symbol that only made it on the standard keyboard in the first
place because of its usage in commerce.
Why did he choose @ over some other symbol?
作为第一个使用@作为电子邮件地址的人 汤姆林森说 我看了一遍键盘
For starters Tomlinson stated, “I looked at the keyboard, and I thought: ‘What can
I choose here that won’t be confused with a username?’
如果所有人的用户名中都有@符号 使用@的效果就不会好
If every person had an ‘@’ sign in their name, it wouldn’t work too well.
But they didn’t.
他们会使用逗号 斜杠和括号
They did use commas and slashes and brackets.”
That left just a few symbols to choose from that weren’t being commonly used.
He noted that, at the time, “The purpose of the at sign (in English) was to indicate
单价(比如 10个商品 @ $1.95)
a unit price (for example, 10 items @ $1.95).”
“it made sense.
@不会被用在名字中 也就不会在用户名
[@] didn’t appear in names so there would be no ambiguity about where the separation
between login name and host name occurred… [@] also had no significance in any editors
that ran on TENEX.
后来有人提醒我 分时操作系统使用@作为行擦除字符
I was later reminded that the Multics time-sharing system used [@] as its line-erase character.
This caused a fair amount of grief in that community of users…”
The resulting format was loginname@host (and later loginname@host.domain once the DNS system
was developed).
And so it was that what is generally credited as being the first true network email, at
least as we think of it, was sent in late 1971 by Tomlinson.
在这个重要的时刻 汤姆林森说 第一封电子邮件
Of this momentous occasion, Tomlinson said, “The first message was sent between two
[DEC-10] machines that were literally side by side.
The only physical connection they had (aside from the floor they sat on) was through the
I sent a number of test messages to myself from one machine to the other.
这些测试信息我已经完全忘了 所以 忘了它们吧
The test messages were entirely forgettable and I have, therefore, forgotten them.
Most likely the first message was QWERTYUIOP or something similar.
(Essentially quickly randomly typing gibberish on the keyboard.)
在对程序满意后 我给小组里其他人员发送了一封电子邮件
When I was satisfied that the program seemed to work, I sent a message to the rest of my
group explaining how to send messages over the network.
The first use of network email announced its own existence.”
正如他们所说 剩下的就都是历史了
And the rest, as they say, is history.
So thanks for watching this video
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可以查看我们的文档 我们已经有差不多700个视频了
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Thanks for watching.