The Information

MHII. SHF. WMIETG. Are these text messaging acronyms? Scientific organizations? Weird tweets? Nope, they’re abbreviations suggested by the machinist Alfred Vail in the 1840s for making telegraph messages more efficient. MHII meant “my health is improving.” SHF stood for “stocks have fallen.” WMIETG was “When may I expect the goods?” Senders and receivers who could strip extraneous clutter out of their messages had an economic advantage… From Anthony’s 50th On Science column, which appeared in the March 20 Sunday Globe.