A Short History of Signs and Symbols

  ,     Paolo Dagomari (1281-1372), an Italian mathematician, first used the comma to separate large figures into units of three. The comma sign was first used in text in England in 1534.
  +     The plus sign was first used by Johannes Widmann in Leipzig, Germany in 1489.
  -     The minus sign was first used by Johannes Widmann in Leipzig, Germany in 1489.
  !     The exclamation mark was first used by John Day, an English printer, in 1553.
  =     The equals sign was first used by Robert Recorde, an English mathematician, in 1557.
  *     The asterisk symbol was used by Sir Philip Sidney, an English poet, politician, and soldier in 1587.
  ?     The question mark was used by Sir Philip Sidney, an English poet, politician, and soldier in 1587.
  >     The greater-than sign was first used by Thomas Harriot, an English astronomer, mathematician, and physicist, in 1621.
  <     The less-than sign was first used by Thomas Harriot, an English astronomer, mathematician, and physicist, in 1621.
  ÷     The division sign was first used by John Pell, an English diplomat and mathematician, c.1630 and Johann Heinrich Rahn, a Swiss mathematician, in 1659.
  x     The multiplication sign was first used by William Oughtred, an English mathematician, in 1631.
       The infinity symbol was first used by Reverend John Wallis, an English mathematician, in 1655.

Last modified: 25.06.2017