Chances are if you used the # symbol up to a decade ago, you’d have either mistyped or been talking music or numbers.
Now it’s so ubiquitous as the hashtag on social media, many may not even know its origins.
It was first used by US technology expert Chris Messina exactly ten years ago: Thursday, August 23, 2007.
Messina proposed using what Americans called the pound key to organise groups on Twitter.
how do you feel about using # (pound) for groups. As in #barcamp [msg]?— ⌗ChrisMessina (@chrismessina) August 23, 2007
Two years after Messina’s suggestion, Twitter officially adopted # as the hashtag symbol and since then it’s become omnipresent.
It became so popular Facebook, Instagram, Google+ and other social media platforms have since jumped on the bandwagon.
It’s even been officially organised. In 2014 the Oxford English Dictionary added hashtag to its publication as ‘A word or phrase preceded by a hash sign (#), used on social media websites and applications, especially Twitter, to identify messages on a specific topic’.
The hashtag didn’t just stay in the online sphere. The Guardian wrote about how to perform a visual hashtag for face-to-face conversations.
Before Messina’s intervention the # symbol was more commonly used to denote weight in North America, numbers or a sharp in music.