Deciphering the Octothorpe (#) and British Pound Sign (£) on an ISO Keyboard

In the realm of keyboard symbols, the octothorpe (#) and the British pound sign (£) hold significant roles, especially on ISO keyboards. Let’s delve into their meanings, origins, and functionalities to unravel the mysteries behind these iconic characters.

Understanding the Octothorpe and British Pound Sign

The octothorpe, commonly known as the hashtag, and the British pound sign are two distinct symbols frequently used in digital and written communication. Despite their differences, they share a common presence on ISO keyboards, albeit in different locations.

Origins and History

The octothorpe’s origins trace back to the Bell Telephone Laboratories in the 1960s, where it was initially used to denote numbers on telephone keypads. Over time, it gained prominence in social media platforms, serving as a marker for trending topics and metadata tagging.

On the other hand, the British pound sign has a rich historical background dating back to the Roman era. It originated from the Latin word “libra,” meaning a unit of weight, and evolved into the symbol “£” to represent the British currency pound sterling.

Placement on ISO Keyboards

On ISO keyboards, the octothorpe typically shares a key with the number 3, situated above the “3” key. This placement allows for easy access when typing alphanumeric characters and accessing symbols commonly used in digital communication.

In contrast, the British pound sign has its dedicated key located on the keyboard, often situated to the left of the Enter key. This strategic positioning reflects the symbol’s significance in financial transactions and everyday monetary dealings.

Functionality and Usage

The octothorpe serves various functions across different platforms. In social media, it acts as a metadata tag, categorizing content and facilitating searchability. Additionally, it functions as a symbol in coding languages, representing comments and directives within scripts.

Conversely, the British pound sign is primarily used to denote the British currency pound sterling (£) in financial transactions, price listings, and monetary values. Its presence on ISO keyboards underscores its importance in economic exchanges and financial systems.

Practical Applications

Both the octothorpe and the British pound sign play vital roles in everyday communication and practical applications. From social media trends to financial transactions, these symbols contribute to the clarity, efficiency, and effectiveness of written and digital discourse.


In conclusion, the octothorpe and the British pound sign are integral components of the modern keyboard landscape. Their presence on ISO keyboards reflects their enduring relevance and functionality in digital communication, coding, and financial transactions. Understanding their meanings, origins, and functionalities enhances our appreciation for these iconic symbols and their contributions to written and digital discourse.


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