Why is the « Power » button represented by such a sign?

Every day, you surely press the famous « Power » button on one of your household appliances, hi-fi or other connected objects. However, have you ever wondered about the origin of the sign that sports this essential button?

This is a question that few people should ask themselves. The « Power » button has been something so common for decades that knowing its origin might be of little interest. Everyone will have their own opinion. What is the secret of this vertical bar placed in the center of a sort of incomplete circular ring?

In the video that you can watch at the end of the article, the Lazy Game Reviews channel indicates that the center line represents the number one. The ring is relative to zero. Easy, it refers to the binary system!

Generally, the line crossing the circle means that the button will not turn off the device completely, but will put it to sleep. This means that if the line is completely inside the circle, the button would completely turn off the device (see below).

(Image credit www.sdjryjd.com)

However, the symbol was kept as is to express this last function. The symbol relating to the day before is therefore totally different and represents a kind of rising crescent moon.

Previously, the On/Off button was the norm, but little by little, the Power button imposed itself. In fact, the latter appeared in 1973, created by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) in order to set up an icon easily understood by anyone in the world, regardless of their language of origin. The IEC had then integrated it into its list of graphic symbols that can be used on equipment.

(Image credit: IEC)

This list is also a kind of universal code bringing together all the symbols (hundreds) used for the different materials, a large part of which is incomprehensible to ordinary mortals (examples above). It is possible to consider these symbols as our modern hieroglyphs. In order to decipher all this, there is work!

Sources: MotherBoard – Coreight

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