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This Guy Spent Five Years Researching The Origins Of The 'Universal S'

This Guy Spent Five Years Researching The Origins Of The 'Universal S'

When things got dull back in school, it seemed the only logical way to pass time would be to draw an 'S' out of 14 individual lines. Obviously.

For many of us, diaries, notepads and even arms would be covered in scribbles of the 'Universal S'. You probably had absolutely no idea where the damn thing came from, or even who taught you how it was done. You just knew that once you'd cracked it, you were cool.

Let's have a recap:

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You may have thought about the symbol late at night (one of those pointless bits of information you ponder before going to sleep) or maybe you've fondly reminisced with old school friends.

But one question remains: where TF did it come from?!

Well, one guy who runs YouTube channel LEMMiNO did a lot of research. Five years' worth, in fact - so he's probably more knowledgeable than most.

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Like us, he had no idea where it came from, what it was supposed to represent or whether it had a name - it was just a familiar symbol to many. Well, that was until he did some digging and found that the sign is in fact a 'global fad'.

In the YouTube video he explains that Wisconsin, Ontario, France, Australia, Greece, Germany, Japan, South Africa and Iceland also recognised the 'S'.

He goes on to say: "Many have tried and failed where I now stood, but in my delusions of grandeur I brushed it off as the failings of lesser men, and into the abyss I went."

The man behind the channel is David Wångstedt, who is a Swedish YouTuber.

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Wångstedt goes on to explain that his research brought him to many online discussions before learning that the symbol had been associated with US clothing brand, Stussy - a company founded in the 1980s.

Despite some people believing that the 'S' symbol has its origins in Stussy's logo, Wångstedt couldn't find any 'evidence' of that, and says that no one has been able to produce an article of clothing with the exact sign.

Stussy commented on the symbol. Credit: YouTube/LEMMiNO
Stussy commented on the symbol. Credit: YouTube/LEMMiNO
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Another option is that the symbol comes from the Suzuki logo which could be a simplified version that was developed over time...

Wångstedt sifted through over 27,000 comments and filtered out any false positives which left him with 1,215 comments which mentioned a country where the symbol had been seen or drawn.

The map of all the comments. Credit: YouTube/LEMMiNO
The map of all the comments. Credit: YouTube/LEMMiNO

From there, he extracted all the comments mentioning a date and found that they ranged from the 1940s to the 2000s hitting the peak during the 90s, meaning that the symbol might go way back making it not only international but an inter-generational sign.

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After trailing through many photographs, Wångstedt came across an art piece from Jean-Michel Basquiat that was completed in New York back in 1982.

Apparently, Basquiat described it as the 'classic S of graf' - graf is short for graffiti...

The piece of art. Credit: YouTube/LEMMiNO
The piece of art. Credit: YouTube/LEMMiNO

When he was rereading through his research, Wångstedt came across an illustration in a book titled 'Mechanical Graphics'. The book was published originally in 1890, according to the YouTube video.

Mind blown...

Featured Image Credit: LADbible

Topics: Entertainment, Interesting

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Rebecca Shepherd

I'm Becky - a journalist at LADbible. I graduated with a First Class BA in Journalism before going on to cover criminal court cases, medical tribunals and breaking news for the national media - which inevitably and eventually became as glum as it sounds. Can often be found rocking a bag for life - which I made a 'thing' way before Rihanna. You can contact me at [email protected]