I’m sorry if this was asked a million times before, but neither Google nor the ELU site has helped me out.
- What’s the reason behind introducing this character?
- What’s the difference between it and and?
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The character is called the ampersand, and this wikipedia article should be able to give you the info you want:
The ampersand can be traced back to the 1st century A.D. and the Old Roman cursive, in which the letters E and T occasionally were written together to form a ligature (figure 1).
As to what the difference is between "&" and "and", the accepted answer to a post (Courtesy: Kit) asking this question demonstrates this quite succinctly.