Who Invented the Percent Sign?

The modern symbol for the percentage originated in medieval Italy in the 15th century and evolved over the next two centuries. However, the calculation of percentages has been known as early as ancient Egypt and India in the fourth century B.C.

The Italian term “per cento” means “of hundred.” Trade in Italy involving large sums of money was common, and 100 had become a common base for financial transactions. An anonymous manuscript from 1425 by a scribe has a “pc” where a little loop adorns the “c.” Over the next two centuries in Europe, the sign evolved into a combination of a loop and a fraction bar. By the 19th century, the tilted fraction bar became very common and replaced the usage of the horizontal bar.