The origin of one of the most graceful characters on the keyboard is a mystery. One theory is the symbol evolved from an abbreviation of “each at”—the “a” encased by an “e.” The first documented use was in 1536, in a letter by Francesco Lapi, a Florentine merchant, who used @ to denote units of wine called amphorae, shipped in large clay jars.
Called the “snail” by Italians and the “monkey tail” by the Dutch. Thanks to Ray Tomlinson the @ is at the centre of modern communication thanks to e-mail, Twitter, Slack, etc. @ has even been inducted into the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, which cited its modern use as an example of “elegance, economy, intellectual transparency, and a sense of the possible future directions that are embedded in the arts of our time.”