[OT] "Space" symbol on a keyboard


I recently took the plunge and switched to a smart phone (a galaxy-S for those interested) and I was kind of interested to see that the one screen keyboard has a nice fat space bar, but in addition it has that "space" symbol that has become increasingly used on cell phones. It is the symbol that looks like an underscore with two small upward lines on the end, similar to this:


I just happened to be cleaning my desk today (in case any of you HHC folks come by. . . can't have you seeing things you shouldn't!) and found a TI-84 in the pile of competitor's units and noticed that it uses the symbol instead of the word SPACE also. I started thinking about that and began wondering how universal is that symbol.

Can those from other countries chime in if your cell phones there use that same symbol? If anyone has a good picture of it, or knows any information about it (such as the name or something) I'd be curious to know that also.





this symbol is on my cell phone, too (Nokia E50, not very smart but only traditional keys). It's printed on the "0" key.


For what it's worth, I found out it is unicode U+2423, character "OPEN BOX". Wikipedia lists it as a graphic for space. I've always seen it on the TI calcs but never gave it a second thought until you brought it up. Hmmmm.


Nice. I thought it would be in unicode somewhere as everything else is, but had no idea where to even start looking. Thanks!



I found an old Sony Ericsson T610 in my office with that symbol on # key. My home phone is really a Nokia mobile phone and it also has that symbol on the 0 key. Both phones have the classic 12 button phone keypad. The space symbol is clearly for texting.

My wife's WinMo QWERTY phone actually has the word "space" printed even though its the largest key and is clearly the space bar (never can be too safe).


I just saw one that has a big wide key, the word SPACE and then the symbol on it. . .

At this rate, you'll soon have written on there "PUSH ME TO SEPARATE A WORD" :-D



This reminds me of the way "Enter" has replaced "Return" or "Carriage Return" on keyboards. :)

I assume the usage of the icon instead of "Space" on things like cell phones is to allow the same keyboard to be used in non-English speaking countries.


Mac keyboards still have a return key; however, the numeric keypad does have an enter key (that is, on models with numeric keypads). Interestingly enough, the Mac OS X Calculator app has an RPN mode.



Edited: 21 Sept 2010, 3:12 a.m.



I have an engineering sample of the TI-81, manufactured in 1990.
Guess what - the [__] symbol is already printed on the "0" key ;-))



I remember seeing that |___| symbol for space in computer books and magazines of the eighties, the ones that had BASIC programs for the reader to type in. They were used when the number of spaces was significant (DATA statements, strings, and so on).

Another symbol sometimes used for a space (mostly in older books, it seemed) was a b overstruck with a / (Unicode U+2422, BLANK SYMBOL). According to decodeunicode.org, it dates back to the IBM 1401 printer in the 1960s.


My Nokia E61 has the |__| Symbol on its double width space bar:

The b/ makes me think about another question: What is the difference between a 'blank' and a 'space'?


What is the difference between a 'blank' and a 'space'?

None in real life AFAIK, but IANAL ;)

My Nokia E61 has the |__| Symbol on its double width space bar.

So does my Ben Nanonote (though its space bar is single width).



You wrote:

I have an engineering sample of the TI-81, manufactured in 1990. Guess what - the [__] symbol is already printed on the "0" key ;-))

The symbol with the upturned ends is used on all my TI graphic calculators from the TI-80 through the TI-89 with one exception. The ALPHA menu for the TI-73 uses a simple underline without the upturned ends.

The Voyage 2000 only has a simple space at the center of the bottom of the QWERTY keyboard layout.

It seems that the old TI-68 should have a way to enter a space but I haven't been able to find it.


Edited: 28 Sept 2010, 10:51 p.m.


It was common back in the days when programs were written by hand on coding sheets (and then entered into the mainframe by a team of ladies in a typing pool) to use this symbol to indicate a space. Needless to say, the ladies weren't programmers so if you missed a space out they wouldn't know to add it. Not good when the turn around for an edit was at least a day so you made sure that you indicated spaces where they were needed.


Even my DTH STB Remote has the "space" key, I have no idea why it is there.

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