Alfred Bester's short story The Demolished Man (the original version serialized in Galaxy magazine in 1952, not the novel published in 1963) may have been the first instance of SMS-speak, featuring characters named “T8” (for “Tate”) and “$$son” (for Jackson).

Wait, how is “$$son” short for “Jackson”?

Randall Garrett, who wrote a review in verse using similar shortcuts (such as “Mr. Hassop has gone in2 th@ mor* his hide” — pronounce * as “asterisk”), has this to say:

Also, there’s a character in the original called “$$son.” Now, I could have sworn that was “Dollarson” and I wrote the verse accordingly. But when the book came out, it was spelled “Jackson.”

“Obscure, Alfie,” says I.

“That’s why I changed it,” says he.

(from the introduction to said review in the collection Takeoff!, by Randall Garrett, Donning, 1979.)

Unfortunately Garrett does not reveal the connection. What is it?

(I realize the answer may or may not be on-topic, since it could be a reference to then-current events rather than a pun.)


1 Answer 1


See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slang_terms_for_money:

...the $20 bill [can be referred to] as a "double sawbuck," or a "Jackson"

  • 3
    But that is quite a different building pattern from T8 for Tate. How do you derive the 20 from $$son, and why is the son repeated? To point to Jackson?
    – malach
    Oct 11, 2010 at 13:31
  • I think that's why the reviewer said it's pretty darn obscure...and why the author changed it to "Jackson" in the book version.
    – Epaga
    Oct 11, 2010 at 13:36
  • 2
    Since the term is slang, I imagine that people would readily abbreviate it in common usage, especially in the plural. For example: Spare me two Jacks? would be used to mean Can you lend me $40? If that is the case, the double $ would indicate the plural "Jacks".
    – e.James
    Oct 14, 2010 at 13:12

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