First message ("?", reply "!")


I was in a discussion with friends to which I could not remember the reference; perhaps one of you can shed some light.

A friend of mine was complaning about how annoying it is that some people send the following: “?” as a message, and hope that the other side actually gets what’s trying to be said. Basically commenting that, there is no data to go by, how could one possibly know what the asker was asking.

That aside, I seem to remember, but I cannot remember the citation or source, that the first message sent over [some medium, i cant remember which, it’s not morse code] was:


… To which the reply was:


Does anyone know this one and/or have citations?

Thanks in advance,


My 1988 Guinness Book Of World Records mentions it:

“The shortest literary correspondence on record was that between Victor Marie Hugo (1802-85) and his publisher, Hurst and Blackett, in 1862. The author was on holiday and anxious to know how his new novel Les Miserables was selling. He wrote ‘?’. The reply was ‘!’”

Ooh, I almost remember this, I think it was somebody asking how their book was selling.

Yeah, there we go.

I remember reading some trivia like that when I was a kid.

For some reason I’m remembering it as a letter Victor Hugo sent to his publisher or something asking about Les Miserables.

I’ll have to search a little.

LOL. Or maybe I won’t have to search. :wink:

I’f I’m not mistaken, it was between Victor Hugo and his publisher regarding how his latest book was selling.

No, it seems to have been between Victor Hugo and his publisher.

Of course, I could be mistaken. :smiley:

It was Rio, by Duran Duran…

Was Victor Hugo on vacation in the Martianas Trench bychance?

Yes, but only for 20 minutes.

Was that in the '60s?

It was a 1920’s style “?”.

I heard Victor Hugo, vacationing in the Marianas trench, on a search for a long lost '20s style DR, writing to his publisher, in Rio, who was jamming with Duran Duran. It happened only once… in the 60s.

The 1860s. He took no joy in the adventure, however, because he failed to bring an 1820s-style death ray.

  1. Victor Hugo
  2. His publisher
  3. Hi, Opal!

I could be wrong, but I think it was some French guy.

There’s still an unanswered question :

** ? **

  1. Gather underwear
  2. ?
  3. !
  4. Profit

Here’s the answer :

** ! **